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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Carmichael Hall residents see rodents’ reign recede

The university responded to students’ reports of an uptick in mice sightings in dormitories, common spaces.

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The top of Carmichael Hall is pictured on Jan. 23, 2021.

Students in Carmichael Hall reported an uptick of mouse sightings and encounters following their return from winter break, prompting the university to formally address the problem of pest control on Jan. 19 via an email from the Office of Residential Life & Learning.

In emails to the Daily, Patrick Collins, executive director of media relations at Tufts University, reported that no mouse activity had been reported since the end of January, but acknowledged that Residential Facilities had received an increased amount of reports after winter break.

One student, first-year Anna Augart-Welwood, said that she had one such encounter with a mouse in the middle of the night.

“My roommate woke me up at 3 in the morning beause she saw the mouse come in under the door,” Augart-Welwood said. “We basically just had to wait for it to leave. … It had chewed through the wrapper of one of my granola bars.”

After waking up Augart-Welwood to alert her of the mouse, Augart-Welwood’s roommate left the room for the night leaving her alone to deal with the pest.

“I just had to sit on my bed really quietly and not move until [the mouse] came out and started investigating,” she said. “Then it left and went back under my door, so I shoved paper towels under the door so that I could go back to sleep and know that the mouse was not in my room.”

Augart-Welwood blamed the reportedly poor-fitting door of her room for letting the mouse enter. She said that after putting in a work order, she started noticing mouse traps in the room but with no notice that maintenance workers would be regularly checking them.

“I only noticed it because I saw across the room something under my radiator,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘what if I dropped a pencil and then bent down to pick it up and then it snapped on my fingers?’ or ‘what if I had to deal with a dead mouse?’”

Lexi King, another first-year Carmichael resident, shared in an interview with the Daily that she saw mice for a while, every time I went into the common room,” and that she thought “there was just one specific mouse living in the common room, just going into the couches.”

When residents came back from winter break, resident assistants held their beginning-of-semester floor meetings, which included a quick discussion of the mice issue.

King also said that the Office of Residential Life & Learning’s email was the first time that Carmichael residents had been given any sort of guidance about dealing with mice. The delay in communication allegedly caused uncertainty, with King sharing that she “didn’t even know” that she was supposed to report pest encounters.

In an email response to the Daily, Collins wrote that this was the case because “reports were initially rather isolated, so emails were sent to individual students who submitted work orders and reached out with concerns. Once more reports came in following the break, ORLL wanted to ensure all students knew the steps to take to have their concerns addressed in a timely manner.”

The email from ORLL urges residents to submit a work order if they see mice or evidence of them. It also shared the action steps that Residential Facilities take when notified of pest issues. ORLL first contacts Tufts’ pest control representative, and from there, an exterminator “will assess what they find in the space and put together an action plan and bait accordingly.” After that, Residential Facilities will contact cleaning services to help disinfect and wipe down surfaces and use a HEPA vacuum to clean the room.

Following the cleaning process, Facilities works with a carpenter to identify any openings in the reported room that could be the source of entry for any pests. Once identified, the carpenter will immediately seal up any openings.

ORLL also provided additional steps that residents can take to help “avoid pest activity” in rooms, including clearing trash bins daily, keeping food in a sealed glass or plastic container and cleaning up crumbs from surfaces.

King expressed annoyance over ORLL’s email recommendations and said that “as a student … it’s hard to keep taking out the trash. Especially if you don’t fill up your trash [often].”

Sophie Coe, another first-year Carmichael resident, shared that “some people were saying that the people that found mice in their room after winter break didn’t put their food away.”

Coe also recounted hearing a story in which a first-floor resident allegedly returned after Thanksgiving break to find dead mice in their room.

Augart-Welwood reported that it felt “not great” to know that mice had access to her room at night.

“It was probably my fault because I did have food on a shelf that was low to the ground, but I also didn’t think that there would be a mouse in my room,” she said. “Now I keep my food in a plastic container, but I feel like maybe they could have told us that before we moved in … because I think it was a well known problem … even if they had just said, ‘we have a mouse problem, so just keep your food in a container,’ I would have appreciated that and then probably could have avoided the issue.”

However, according to Collins, the university has successfully addressed the problem of mice in Carmichael.

Collins added that “there had been occasional sightings of mice in the Dining Center, which correlates to what we had seen in the building overall.” After mice were spotted where students eat, Residential Facilities took mitigation steps and now “evidence of pest activity has decreased dramatically.”

“If Residential Facilities receives additional reports of pest activity, it will address them immediately with mitigation measures,” he wrote.