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.”