A whistleblower has lodged a formal complaint with the U.S. Government over the safety of the bunk beds at San Diego State University (SDSU) following the death of a 19-year-old freshman on November 7.
Dylan Hernandez died from blunt force trauma to the head after falling from the top of his bunk, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner.
The complaint - obtained by NBC 7 Investigates - was sent to the Consumer Protection Safety Commission on November 18 from an anonymous parent of an SDSU student and former alumni.
The parent says the university, in response to a housing shortage, is cramming students into small rooms and using unsafe bunk beds to fit more students in a dorm.
“These bunk beds did not exist in the residence halls until recently, when the university for the first time in its history, mandated that all sophomores live in residence halls and pay the university their rent,” reads the complaint. “This led a housing shortage in which SDSU brought in bunk beds to cram 3-4 adults into a small bedroom with no kitchen, living space, or bathrooms. They then increase the rents by 30-50 percent. There have been many complaints about these living conditions in addition to the unsafe and possibly illegal bunk beds.”
Some students on campus agree that the conditions inside the dorms can be crowded.
“The dorms are so tiny and packing three big guys in there just doesn’t make sense,” said SDSU sophomore Joe Berniklau.
Berniklau said one of his friends also fell off the top bunk.
“People are just falling out of their bunks in the middle of the night. My buddy fell, hit his head on the desk below and had to go to the hospital to get checked out.”
According to the whistleblower complaint, the university is trying to divert any conversation from the bunk beds and instead focus on alleged reports Hernandez was inebriated when he fell.
In the days following Hernandez’s fatal fall from his dorm room bunk, the university suspended 14 fraternities and created a task force to concentrate on alcohol and drug abuse on campus.
But the complaint alleges the college and not the fraternities are partially to blame for Hernandez’s untimely death.
“The university and its president are trying to blame the Greek system for the death when it is obvious the student died from falling off the top bunk in the middle of the night,” read the complaint.
Specifically, the document states that the bunk beds fail to meet U.S. safety requirements and in its alleged attempt to fit more students into dorm rooms, San Diego State University “may not have a general certificate of conformity as required by law.”
NBC 7 contacted San Diego State for comment on the complaint and allegations of overcrowding at the dorms.
A spokesperson for SDSU sent the following statement which was posted to the university’s website this past weekend.
“All lofted beds and bunk beds located within San Diego State University residence halls are produced by national manufacturers and meet California State Fire Marshal requirements. Rails are installed on the top of all lofted beds and bunk beds in all SDSU on-campus housing. The beds and any affixed safety rails, ladders and kits are both attached and inspected by professional maintenance personnel before the start of each fall semester and also during the winter break.
Additional health and safety checks in rooms also occur during the academic year, as outlined by SDSU Housing terms and conditions, available online via Student Housing License Agreement Terms & Conditions 2019-2020.
The university community is devastated by the passing of Dylan Hernandez. We continue to offer support to students, faculty, and staff, whether they are directly or indirectly affected by Hernandez’s passing. Information about support resources, and other information and details are available via a centralized site: sdsu.edu/investigation. We continue to provide updates to the site as regularly as possible.”