Student Life | Oct. 3

USG to pilot mattress rental system despite sanitation concerns

Students will soon be able to rent mattresses for overnight guests as part of a program initiated by the Undergraduate Student Government. The service, which will allow students to rent air mattresses from the USG for their rooms, will be piloted in the coming weeks despite concerns that have been raised over possible sanitation issues.

“This would give students a service and allow more guests to come onto campus without having to sleep on the floors or on the couch,” USG vice president Carmina Aguilar Mancenon ’14 said.

The proposal was introduced last spring by Class of 2016 Senator Eduardo Lima, now project manager for the initiative. After attending an Ivy League leadership conference and hearing about a mattress rental system in place at Harvard, Lima said he decided Princeton would benefit from a similar program.

The program, which was discussed by the USG Senate last week, will launch in roughly two weeks, according to Lima. The USG has purchased five mattresses but hopes to grow the program if it can successfully recover the costs of the initial mattress purchases.

“The logistics are still in progress,” Lima said. “Once we get the air mattress system done, we’ll work with the people who head the [USG] office and figure out the best way to go about this.”

To rent a mattress, students will be able to drop by the USG office Monday through Saturday and enter their name and the number of days they intend to have the mattress. They will sign a pledge promising to return the mattress in the condition they received it and pay $2 per night.

Several members of the USG expressed concerns over the sanitary ramifications of circulating mattresses at the USG Senate meeting last week. Some voiced the concern that the USG could be held accountable if a disease like Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, commonly known as MRSA, is contracted after a mattress is used.

Trap Yates ’14, Campus and Community Affairs Chair, has raised concerns about potential liability issues for the USG. A recent bedbug infestation in Holder Hall resulted in a four-person suite being temporarily evacuated.

“I was initially worried if someone slept on the mattress and their desk had lice or something, would USG be liable for that?” Yates said. “I just think the question is, can this be a liability put on renters or USG?”

Yates is a former associate Street editor for the Daily Princetonian.

Lima said that these concerns have already been addressed and that the USG had a dialogue with University Health Services and Public Sanitation.

“They [UHS and Public Sanitation] would recommend that people use the same kind of sanitation process they would use at the gym,” Lima explained. “That is, if you rent an air mattress, there’s a common acknowledgement that other people have slept on it. If you have Lysol wipes, use them. If you have sheets, put them down.”

Mancenon added that other universities with similar systems — such as Harvard — will serve as a model for proper sanitation practices. “What we’re hoping to do now is try and understand their best practices of how they handle things. But from our end, we hope guests and users will take good care of the mattresses,” Mancenon said.

According to Mancenon, students can expect an email from USG President Shawon Jackson ’15 in the next few weeks with more information on the mattress rental system.

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