Oh rats! Residents of French Hall face daily battle with local rodents

by Lauren Adler | 9/27/19 2:10am

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Residents of French Hall set up mousetraps as they deal with rodents in the building.

Source: Courtesy of Hayden Welty

As students moved in for the fall term, many living on the first and basement floors of French Hall were dismayed to find that they would be sharing their building with a few extra residents: mice.

The mice, whom students have collectively dubbed “Remy the River Rat” after the rodent protagonist of the movie “Ratatouille,” have been sighted in French several times over the last three weeks. Emily Hester ’23, who lives on the first floor of French, said that the mouse sightings are “just a daily thing now.”

“We just have to roll with it,” said Frandy Rodriguez ’23, who also lives on the first floor. “We have a rat in our dorm. We have several.” 

Several students have had first-hand experiences with the mice, including basement resident Phoebe Ford ’23. 

“I felt something on my foot, and I look down and there’s this black — I mean, I knew it was a mouse, and it ran across my foot and under my bed,” she said. 

Ford, several of her floor mates and a Safety and Security officer pursued the mouse into the building’s laundry room but were ultimately unable to catch it.

While residents of French could not concretely state the number of mice present in the building, students estimated that there may have been as many as six rodents in the building at once: On move-in day, one was found dead in a student’s room, while at a later date, two were caught in mousetraps, and one was caught in a trash can. However, students said that at least two more mice are still on the loose. 

The mice are extremely fast and small enough to fit under doors, several students have reported, which has made it difficult to address the problem; residents have taken to stuffing towels under their doors as a temporary fix.

According to associate director of residential operations Bernard Haskell, the College contacted the exterminator company Maguire Pest Control upon hearing about the issue. Dartmouth has a long-standing contract with Maguire and has used the company many times in the past to take care of rodents, bees and other pests on campus, according to Haskell. 

Associate dean of residential life and director of residential education Michael Wooten wrote in an email that “work control staff responded [in French] last week and continue to monitor the situation,” although all students interviewed reported that they were unaware of the College taking any steps to address the problem.

Additionally, director of residential operations Catherine Henault wrote in an email that while the College requested an exterminator last week, the exterminator was unable to visit any residence halls until this week. Rodriguez said that as of this week, she has not been aware of any exterminators in French.

“Maybe they came, maybe they didn’t, but there are still mice running around our hallways … the only mice that have been caught have been caught by us,” Hester said. 

Leo Xie ’23, who also lives on the first floor of French, said that all of the mousetraps currently being used in French were purchased and set up by students, although the building custodian has helped to dispose of any mice caught in the traps.

When Abigail Smith ’23 heard that there was a rodent problem on her floor, her thoughts went in a different direction: t-shirts.

“It was just a funny situation,” she said. “We all really bonded over the mouse thing.” 

When another student on the floor suggested they make commemorative shirts, she decided to take charge of the design, drawing from her experience designing shirts for events at her high school. The shirts feature a wild west-style “wanted” poster for Remy the Rat, and residents ordered 30 of the shirts last week.

Though some of the students living in French have said that the presence of the mice have bothered them, they generally agreed that the problem is mostly just an inconvenience and has brought them closer together. 

“It’s a little weird and we don’t love [Remy], but he hasn’t really caused any real trouble other than just running around and making us nervous … there could be worse things,” Smith said. “We’re building a better community, and we’re all going to be really good buds.”