The Players: Student Government Association – Part 1

West Virginia University’s Student Government Association is an elected group that “serves as the student’s direct voice to the WVU administration,” according to the group’s website.

The SGA meets 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday in the Mountainlair Hatfields B Room. These meetings are open to students so that they can voice their concerns.

The SGA is comprised of a board of governors and executive officers. Executive officers are in charge of different areas that affect students such as:

  • Student Organizations
  • Off-Campus Housing
  • Greek Liaisons
  • Recruitment and Retention
  • International Student Liaison
  • Diversity
  • Wellness
  • Athletics
  • Neighborhood Associations
  • Residential Affairs
  • Safety
  • Transportation

Obviously the most relevant person to talk to for this blog is the director of off-campus housing, Earl Hewitt. Hewitt is a junior engineering major from Indiana, Pa. He’s also a licensed Real  Estate salesman in Pennsylvania, so he’s very familiar with housing issues.

Last week, I met with Hewitt to discuss what he thinks are some of the biggest issues with off-campus housing.

He said there are two main problems with off-campus student housing in Morgantown:

  1. mold
  2. bed bugs

Let’s talk about mold first – the reason it is such an issue is that there’s no legislature on it here like in other states. Hewitt said only five states have mold-related legislation at this time.

Students want to break leases over mold, he said. But because there’s no legislation, they are having to move home for health reason and still pay rent because their landlords won’t remove the mold. While there’s no link to mold causing diseases, exposure to large amounts can cause illnesses.

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, indoor mold can trigger allergies or allergy-like symptoms in the upper respiratory system. The most common symptoms are:

  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Cough
  • Wheezing/breathing difficulties
  • Sore throat
  • Skin and eye irritation
  • Upper respiratory infections (including sinus infections)

Over the past four months, Hewitt has been working with Carrie Showalter of WVU Student Legal Services and Nancy Key of Environmental Health & Safety (Environmental Health and Safety Specialist, Indoor Air Quality) to write legislature related to mold and trying to contact delegates.

Now on to bed bugs – the reason this can be a problem is that it’s quite an expensive problem to fix, especially if the place is already furnished, Hewitt said. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, to remove bed bugs, you must “heat infested articles and/or areas through to at least 113 ºF (45 ºC) for 1 hour. The higher the temperature, the shorter the time needed to kill bed bugs at all life stages.”

And because I’m getting itchy writing about it, I feel it’s only fair that I show you what an adult bed bug looks like.

(photo from http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/housingandclothing/dk1022.html)

There’s also a bed bug registry to find out if there’s been infestations in specific areas or even hotels.

If you live in Morgantown, have you experienced any issues with mold or bed bugs? Please comment and let me know!

Hewitt had many interesting things to say about the quality of housing in Morgantown, but I’m going to save that for the next post. Please check back!

-Leann

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