Elizabeth Hall Residence Director addresses cockroach rumors

A shower drain in Elizabeth Hall. Cockroaches typically enter the residence hall through shower drains. This can be prevented by cleaning up excess food, dirt or standing water. Photo by Tori Sanders.

By Tori Sanders, The Circuit

What would you do if you found a cockroach in your shower? Scream? Yell? Run and find a Resident Assistant? This is an uncommon, but not unheard of experience for several residents of Elizabeth Hall.

Jocelyne Kleinsmith, a current Resident Assistant of Elizabeth Hall, has dealt with the cockroaches before and is always willing to help a resident who needs help getting rid of them.

“In general, it’s an old building so the chances [of finding a cockroach or two] are equal throughout,” said Kleinsmith.

This on-campus women’s residence hall, which was previously known as Freshman Hall, was built in 1893 and was used as a dorm beginning in 1929. After going unused for many years, it was completely renovated in 2001.

Kleinsmith’s words may calm the nerves of many current and future residents of the dorm. Despite rumors that tend to circulate in the weeks before Room Draw, there are no specific rooms that are more prone to seeing cockroaches than others. As long as a room is properly treated, Jennifer Carter, Residence Director of Elizabeth Hall, said seeing roaches once does not increase the chance of seeing them again later.

“If the room is really messy and dirty, they’re going to see more [cockroaches] because that’s what cockroaches are attracted to,” she said.

Carter, who is in her eighth year as Resident Director, also made sure to add that, “just the fact that there is a cockroach doesn’t mean that those people are unclean.”

Kleinsmith and Carter both emphasized that doing a little extra cleaning each month can make a world of difference. This will get rid of excess hair, crumbs and standing water that may be invisible to the human eye, but still attractive to a roach.

In addition to preventative measures taken by residents, the drains are treated every summer and every Christmas break by an exterminator. Treating the drains at this time is the best way to regularly treat the building without disturbing residents.

There have only been 2-3 incidents this school year in which roaches were found in rooms, and even then, there are typically only 1-2 roaches found at a time.

If you are a resident of Elizabeth Hall and find a roach, Carter says that what you do next is really up to you.

“If [you] don’t mind capturing it and killing it, then that’s great,” she said. “But the RA’s are still happy to come in and help out.”

The norm is that the resident notifies either Carter or one of the RAs, and a work order is filed. From there, either Campus Maintenance or an outside exterminator will come in and spray the room. Both Carter and Kleinsmith praised Campus Maintenance for their efficiency and help in these matters.

The process only takes a few minutes and, “there may be a slight smell, but it is not usually noticeable and no one in the room is required to leave,” Carter said.

They can be found in the pipes and are able to get through fairly small spaces, so in Elizabeth Hall, the problem areas are typically showers and sinks.

In the past, girls have put makeshift covers or cups over the drain when the shower isn’t running to keep any bugs from entering the room.

Sometimes the treatment process will force the insects out of the drain before they die, so residents may find a dead roach in their room. This is simply a sign that the treatment is working.

“I think the important thing to know is that cockroaches aren’t really as big an issue in Elizabeth as people make them out to be,” Carter said. “It is not, and has never been, an infestation problem, but rather a single case here and there that is easily taken care of.”

Carter and Kleinsmith both encouraged residents to ask for assistance whenever needed and, as Kleinsmith advised: Simply, “take a deep breath and call me.”