Six months on: Mary Chapman Court is STILL infested with bed bugs

There are cockroaches, too

Freshers in Mary Chapman Court are still living with bed bugs and cockroaches, six months after The Tab originally reported on the problem.

The pests were first noticed back in October 2015 and the halls were given treatment for the infestation. However, as students were allowed to remain in Mary Chapman Court with their belongings whilst the treatment was going on, the bed bugs quickly returned.

First Year American Literature and Creative Writing student Harry Bennett said; “I would say I am surprised by the return of the bed bugs but a part of me always thought it might happen.

“The fact that we were allowed to stay in unsanitary accommodation to begin with is atrocious and the process is just getting tedious.”

Bed bug bites

The pest problems have now been reported in as many as sixteen bedrooms throughout Mary Chapman Court.

Maths fresher, Molly Mackay said: “I think our flat was the worst for them. Thirteen bedbugs were found in just one bedroom within the first week of moving in”.

As if bed bugs weren’t bad enough, residents have also complained about their kitchens, laundry rooms and even bedrooms being full of cockroaches.

Molly said: “Before we moved in the fridge and microwave were replaced due to cockroaches and now we have them again.

“Traps got placed down for the roaches last semester around November/December time but we don’t see how regularly they’re changed. They are supposed to get changed every three weeks.”

Fellow resident, Amber Francis, had a similar experience whilst living in Mary Chapman Court.

She said: “There were cockroaches in my room for my entire stay, the first night I arrived after flying to England there were cockroaches just running around in my room, and I stayed in that room the entire time.

“Eventually they put three traps there and were like: ‘Yeah maybe don’t touch those’, and they didn’t do anything else whilst the traps filled up with cockroaches.”

Cockroach found on an MCC washing machine

Mary Chapman Court currently costs £81 a week to stay in but residents have found themselves shelling out even more cash for bite cream, dry cleaning and cleaning products in a bid to battle the bugs.

The University originally pledged to reimburse any money students spent on fighting the pests. However, residents submitted their receipts before Christmas and are yet to receive any payment.

In a statement a UEA spokesperson said: “We are sorry that a small number of students in Mary Chapman Court are currently experiencing issues with bed bugs. We would like to reassure students that UEA accommodation is working hard with colleagues in Estates to solve these issues as quickly as possible.

“Bed bugs are found, on occasion, in all types of accommodation from houses to hotels. Although bed bugs can be upsetting to find, they are not dangerous.

“The bugs are not attracted to dirt so are not a sign of an unclean home. Our team keeps up-to-date with the latest treatments and where any issues are reported we will take action, which usually takes about six weeks. We have invested significant resources in long-term solutions such as painting walls to ensure treatment is effective.”

Since hearing complaints of the infestations in Mary Chapman Court, the SU has called on the University to solve the problem for good.

Welfare, Community and Diversity Officer Jo Swo said: “Coping with infestations in student accommodation is something that belongs in the clichés of 1980’s rogue landlords rather than in University accommodation in 2016.

“Creepy crawlies in student digs isn’t a rite of passage – it can have a massive impact on students’ academic achievement and expenditure. Having received repeated reassurances about the problem being fixed in recent months we’re now calling on the University to crack the problem properly and to consider compensation.”

Mary Chapman Court in all its glory

As well as living with critters, MCC residents have raised concerns about the standards of the halls in general.

First year History student Charlie Smith said, “Something really should be done about the quality of the place as a whole. For what we pay, in comparison to the rest of the halls it’s literally a shit hole not to mention it’s not on or near campus.

“There a like a million things wrong with every flat: the desks are disgusting, the window are useless. Mine are always closed but still in cold or wet weather my windowsill will be wet and the ones in the stairwells are so old they get condensation in between them. What are we paying for?”

Other freshers have also complained that the lack of CCTV or security has led to strangers being able to easily walk off the streets into the halls as well as a string of bike thefts.

Resident Elizabeth Blomfield said: “I came home to find four people in our kitchen leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses’ leaflets.

“And just the other week I came back from the LCR, opened the door to the fridge and three drunk blokes from the car park came right up and started banging on our kitchen window and trying to open them. It might not sound like the end of the world but I was so scared. Security really is an issue.”

Any students who have been affected by the condition of their halls should contact the SU Advice Centre or the Accommodation Office.