Mice Infestation Continues

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Recently, mice have become a significant problem for many Swarthmore dorm residents. The problem was highlighted last week by a campus-wide email sent by Dean of Residential Life Rachel Head. As of this article, only Dana, David Kemp, PPR, Woolman, and Kyle have escaped the mice infestation.

The combination of an unusually cold winter and the allure of food in the dorms has produced the worst mice problem in recent years. Willets RA Elizabeth Brown ’09 says, “This is my third year in Willets, and I’ve never had problems with them before. I think every hall has had at least a few, and some halls, like mine, seem to be stuck with them.”

“I get several emails a day from students about mice sightings, and some are from RA’s who have gotten several complaints from their hall,” Dean Head says.

An exterminator has been hired by the college to deal with the mice problem. The exterminator works in the most affected dorms every Tuesday and Friday.

However, frustration is rising among affected residents. Brown notes that “everybody who has had issues with the mice is pretty frustrated.” While her hall has been following Dean Head’s advice, “the problem is definitely still there, and it’s hard to tell whether it’s getting better or not.”

Head maintains that patience is key, explaining that “every complaint gets looked at by maintenance” and students need “to remain diligent in reporting.”

Numerous students and staff have brought attention to the inhumane techniques that the exterminator may use. Among them are sticky glue traps, which lure mice into a strong adhesive that holds them. Head reports that she has received emails from students that detail organic ways to deal with mice, such as peppermint oil or mothballs.

The college has taken these concerns into account and has told the exterminator to not use sticky glue traps. However, not killing the mice will be futile, as any efforts to capture and subsequently release mice outside will be ineffective. The mice will inevitably return to the dorm.

Head stresses that “the key to dealing with mice is prevention; being careful with food, taking out the garbage, plugging holes with steel wool, and vacuuming.” Some Swatties have taken these instructions in stride; as one Wharton resident notes, “I just take the mice as an extra incentive to keep my room clean.”

0 thoughts on “Mice Infestation Continues

  • February 9, 2009 at 11:30 am

    The mice are rather disgusting- I'm in Mertz, which isn't too terribly infested just yet, but I'm pretty sure just about all of us are crossing our fingers.

  • February 9, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    I take issue with the following excerpted paragraph:

    "The college has taken these concerns into account and has told the exterminator to not use sticky glue traps. However, not killing the mice will be futile, as any efforts to capture and subsequently release mice outside will be ineffective. The mice will inevitably return to the dorm."

    The mice are in our home because we're making it comfortable for them, not because there are wild mice. As the paragraph that immediately follows in the article suggests suggests, responsible management of our living spaces (including the steel wool and other fortressing techniques) are our most effective tools.

    The problem is that mice share our spaces, not that they are alive. Whether you think in terms of karmic price or collateral damage or simply peaceful habits of mind, considering more humane and less intrusive approaches to problems is NOT a futile exercise, and viewing eradication of "problematic" populations as the only solution can blind us to more selfishly beneficial, as well as humane solutions.

    Yes, they're mice. I don't grieve when I hear the mousetrap in my room snap. But they are also living, feeling mammals that we study to learn about our own development, psychology, and health. And I want to take responsibility for their suffering and death if I'm perpetrating it.

  • February 9, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    I would vacuum if the vacuum cleaners were effective. I tried vacuuming my rug last week and the vacuum couldn't lift anything off of it. Anything. It just dropped dirt on my rug that had been lodged inside the vacuum. I sent an email to EVS, but I'm not optimistic.

  • February 10, 2009 at 1:47 am

    Hmmm. Still plenty of horrible sticky traps in ML….

  • February 10, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Cats– cats– cats.
    A natural and effective means of ridding the infested areas
    of mice. They'll troll the parameters of the buildings & keep more mice from
    getting in. And since mice are prolific breeders (six to ten litters per yr.) and carry nasty diseases– prowling cats might be the way to go.


  • February 10, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I currently have the Willets 2nd vacuum in my custody. I emptied the bag, and it is working OK now. I will release it tomorrow.

  • February 11, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    i saw some adults near the south entrance of the school holding a banner that said "shame on swarthmore college." Anyone know if they were protesting the sticky traps?

  • February 15, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    I agree on the cats. Hell, we can get some of those hypo allergenic hairless cats to keep in the dorms!


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