Students cope with unwelcome rodents

On Oct. 22, Baxter Fellows received an e-mail from Aaron Gordon, assistant director of Campus Life, addressing an influx of mice into residence halls. Citing both the age of the College’s dormitories and recent cold spells as causes of the pest problem, the e-mail assured students that Facilities “is working hard to counteract this issue along with Berkshire Pest Control.”
Gordon, the Campus Life officer responsible for residential life and housing, emphasized that the mice problem is not a new one.

“Every year when the weather starts to turn cold, I do get people coming in and complaining about mice and if not seeing them, hearing them,” he said. “The types of residences halls we have, many of which are older houses that have wood-framed constructions, do lend themselves to mice getting into cracks and squeezing inside.” Gordon added that the residence halls are also attractive to mice “because it’s warm, and students are not always great about cleaning up their food supplies.”

This year, Gordon received an unusually high number of student complaints issuing from several dorms. The complaints, which first came from Perry and Lehman, began after the first cold nights in early October. Within two weeks, Gordon decided that contacting the Baxter Fellows was a “prudent and practical” way to advise students about counteracting the problem. No further complaints have reached Gordon since the e-mail went out.
“It does go away. Berkshire Pest Control comes in, and by the start of December rarely are there mice issues,” Gordon said. “I’m fairly confident that we’re in a normal cycle here, even if it doesn’t feel like it.”

Bea Miles, associate director for custodial services, confirmed that the problem is seasonal. “This year really isn’t any different than previous years. It’s fall, and mice are looking for a warm place to winter,” Miles said. “The key is to not make them feel welcome. Dirty dishes and trash should be removed from [rooms] and food should be kept in mouse-proof containers. No food; no mice.”

According to Miles, Berkshire Pest Control is an asset to Facilities because “they are willing to respond to our needs very quickly, usually within 24 hours.” Miles added that the College has had “a very long and successful relationship with Berkshire Pest Control” and maintains a pest management contract with the company. Facilities has not incurred any extra costs due to this year’s spate of mice.

Fiona Moriarty ’11, a student living on the second floor of Perry, reported that she found four dead mice in her room in addition to seeing other live mice. She contacted Facilities and was given “one trap two days after I reported the problem,” she said. Moriarty then reached out to Gordon, and Facilities and Berkshire Pest Control then contacted her to report that they would seal up the holes in her room.

“It was really frustrating to live with mice in the room my senior year and feel that no one cares to fix the problem,” Moriarty said. “Instead of fixing it initially, they glossed it over.” Moriarty still hears the mice in her walls but has not seen another mouse.
“I didn’t sign up for a roommate this year,” she added. “I got about seven.”

In Lehman, Will Quayle ’12 found a mouse in a stash of almonds on his dresser. “I was surprised to see them and none too thrilled,” he said. “We were caught unawares.” Quayle explained that Facilities checked his room for holes and determined that the mouse was entering the room under his door; his suitemates have also had mice. “I’ve basically just eliminated all the food from my room,” he said. Quayle lives on the third floor.
Neither Gordon nor Miles has received reports of any other kinds of pest problems this year.