My name is Peter Castronovo, and I am the Senior Sanitarian of the Environmental Health & Safety Department (EH&S) of the University. One of my responsibilities as the Senior Sanitarian is managing our in-house structural Pest Control Unit (PCU). After reading the above Op-Ed, I asked our Administrative staff to review our daily records and using our database, compile a report of regarding the number of mice complaints we received in Sue B. from Aug. 1 through Sept. 30 of this school year. We received a total of two complaints/calls for that time period. One was from Public Safety for a mouse seen on the fourth-floor lounge and one was in a student’s room on the third floor. One of our Pest Control Specialists addressed each of the two complaints within one working day, as per our standard protocol. The only other activity involving mice during this time period was the baiting of outside stations, a preventative measure activity that we conduct each month. The records kept by that Specialist assigned to that building verified the data in our Activity Database.
Consequently, it dawned on me that the students are either not notifying us when they see signs of mice or contacting the wrong department. Further investigation indicates its possible they may have contacted Facilities or Residential Life. While both those departments have protocols to contact the EH&S Pest Control Unit when this occurs, there are advantages for students to call us directly and every time they see new mouse activity. There are also indications that some students do not make any calls, and that is problematic if we do not know there is an issue. Consequently, I am writing this article as an education piece to help us work together, students and EH&S to minimize rodent problems in Res Life buildings. As a past parent to a student at our University, I understand how important it is to ensure they have a pest- free living environment so they can concentrate on their education. I offer the following bullet points in an attempt to obtain this goal, as we also need students to do their part also in this process:
- When any signs of mice (or any pest for that matter) are noted in RL buildings, students should call the general EH&S phone number at 275-3241. Please leave accurate information with the Admin. staff in terms of their name, phone number, room number/location and as much detail regarding the pest issue as possible. If calling after 5 p.m. or weekends, there is a way to leave all this information on voice mail that will be provided to a pest control specialist the next working day.
- The PCU does not have on-site 24/7 service; however, for pest emergencies (as defined on our website at https://www.safety.rochester.edu/pest/urgencyguide.html ) students should contact Public Safety at 275-3333 who can then reach me or one of my specialists.
- As stated above, we need the help of students also. Spilled food or old containers with food residuals will draw many types of pests including mice. Students should do their best to keep rooms and common areas clean of food. If a student knows there is a problem with mice in their room, extra precautions need to be taken including minimizing storing food in their rooms, and if they do, keep it in plastic containers with tight lids. A mouse will easily eat through a bag or box of food. We also need help once we are aware of mice problems in rooms. Since there is only one Specialist assigned to the River and Eastman Campuses, we need students’ help to communicate to EH&S findings in their room such as when a mouse is caught on a trap or any other pertinent data that may be helpful in abating the problem. The Specialist may give out his work phone; therefore, direct communication with the Specialist is also possible.
- Keeping outside entry points such as doors and ground-floor windows/screens closed will help minimize mice entry into the buildings. We know that during move-in, doors are propped open to bring in supplies and both when doors and windows are left open to keep it feeling cooler since it is a hot time of year. However, we need to do our best to minimize these entry points being left open any longer than necessary.
- The PCU will continue to provide preventative services such as monitoring and keeping outside rodent bait stations full with bait. We may add additional ones where we know there is a problem with mice. We will also continue to work with Facilities and Residential Life to minimize structural deficiencies that allow mice movement into and inside our Residential Life buildings. Moreover, we will continue to respond to mice issues within one working day.
The student body should be aware the PCU is here to help them and are dedicated to this cause. Students are our customers but we do need some help along the way. It is hoped that this editorial response can help us to all work together to achieve the best results we can in terms of minimizing mice issues in Residential buildings.