My Roommates Posed a Public Health Hazard


Almost everyone has a bad roommate story — it seems like it’s an inevitable part of student housing. This is just one story; a story from a close friend of mine, but you can find countless more. Chances are if you ask the person beside you, they will have a story about how hard it is to find housing, let alone quality housing. Along with worrying about midterms, finals, a part-time job, co-op applications, personal issues and other commitments, students also have to worry about finding a suitable living space. 

The experience my friend went through during this year’s move-in season was something out of a bad science fiction movie. 

While she knew some of her roommates before the move-in date, the new roommates she encountered were unexpected to say the least. Right as she walked through the door, she could tell something was wrong.

Corners of the house were crowded with her new roommates’ friends and they seemed to have left the food they had eaten in disarray. The counters and floors were not any better, stained and grimy along with the walls and ceiling. The unit could be likened more to a hive — fit for insects, not humans. The sad part is, it seems like even bees take better care of their living space. To say the least, the place was a complete mess

And it wasn’t as if they had just a few friends over. The place was completely packed with individuals she had never seen before. It almost seemed like a party was going on, except for the fact that everyone seemed to have made themselves comfortable, like they had been living there all this time. How long had her new roommates and their friends been residing there, like this, in such a crowded, unsanitary way? 

And how did the landlords of the building not notice this?  This state of living couldn’t be safe or sanitary in any way. And yet, this was where she was expected to live. 

Her friends that she had decided to live with were also horrified with the condition of the apartment. They would’ve gotten out of there immediately and found a new place but they couldn’t because of the dire Waterloo housing situation. 

The apartment buildings and houses near campus were essentially all packed. There just wasn’t enough space for everybody. There still isn’t. 

There was no escape from this situation. They could either stick it out and live there, or go back home and spend hours commuting to school everyday. Or even worse, take a semester off. 

They were trapped. They thought they could stick it out. I mean, how bad could it be?It’s surely better than the other two alternatives of commuting and dropping out, right?

The first thing they thought to do was confront their new roommates about this mess, but how could they?

These individuals weren’t capable of human skills like empathy and communication – because they weren’t human. Their new roommates were roaches. And I don’t mean that figuratively.

They were cockroaches.

My friend didn’t know this when they decided to lease the place but apparently this building had a cockroach infestation. And now their space — the place they were supposed to eat, study and relax in — had been enc-roached upon by these things. 

Their landlord did provide fumigation and a very mediocre cleaning service. But it didn’t do much to fix the issue. They were on their own.

The first night was a complete nightmare, there were roaches still crawling up their walls and dropping from the ceilings. The girls pulled an all-nighter because they couldn’t sleep from the paranoia. 

That was the last straw. From the lack of support provided to the failed fumigation, they all collectively decided that they would not under any circumstances live there. Even if it meant commuting and sacrificing the quality of their education. 

No one should be expected to live in such a state, especially students with enough on their plate to worry about. But this is the reality for students at UW and other surrounding schools in the KW area. 

So, to answer the question you may all still have, what happened to the girls moving into the roach house?

Were they able to at least, at least, get out of their lease? Yes. Kind of. They could get out of the lease if they were able to find someone else to take it over. 

My friend was able to find a place close to campus, residing with her relatives. Her roommates however, were not so lucky. They had to commute a couple hours a day for a good two weeks before they were able to find a house. A house that already has five other people living in it and that is miles away from campus. 

Now back to the question: were these girls able to find someone to take over their lease? They did!

They managed to find a group of students to take over their unit. These individuals were fully aware of the infestation situation. They even looked at the place and still decided to take it. 

But honestly, who can blame them? Students are so desperate to find accommodation that even unsanitary living standards are overlooked. The standard is now to just have a roof over your head. 

Now, even though everything sort of worked out, I hate to think about the people who are still looking for places or the people who are roped into taking places that lack quality of living. I do hope companies and landlords will stop taking advantage of students, or at the very least provide safe accommodations, but no one can count on that.