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‘Like a Horror Movie’: Freshmen Complain About Mice in Dorms

First-year students have complained of mouse and rat sightings in their Harvard Yard dorms.
First-year students have complained of mouse and rat sightings in their Harvard Yard dorms. By Catherine H. Feng
By Jo B. Lemann and Azusa M. Lippit, Crimson Staff Writers

When Kaitlin M. Caughman ’27 woke up in her Massachusetts Hall dorm one morning last December, she found an unexpected visitor in her bed.

“I roll over to go back to sleep, and it’s on my bed. I come face to face with the mouse,” Caughman said. “Less than a foot from my face.”

Caughman immediately began to take preventative measures such as cleaning and discarding food — but has still seen “upwards of six or seven” mice in her room this semester. Ahead of midterm exams, she’s resorted to sleeping in friends’ dorms for several nights to avoid rodent-related disturbances.

“I was studying for these exams, and the mice were going crazy,” Caughman said. “All the way throughout Mass. Hall.”

Though several freshmen said they have seen mice in their dorms since early last fall, many said they noticed an increase in recent weeks. Soham Gupta ’27 said he found a rat upon returning to his Canaday Hall dorm after spring break.

“I open the door to my bathroom, and then a rat comes out of there, basically scurrying out,” Gupta said. “I did not shower that night.”

Hollis Hall resident Diane Sun ’27 awoke to “squeaking and the sound of crunching” just before making her first mouse sighting after spring break. Sun and her roommate took action, throwing away food, filling in holes with cardboard, and covering their room in peppermint oil.

Their countermeasures were unsuccessful.

“The next morning, my roommate — after we first saw the rat — the rat got into her zipped backpack, with a zipped pouch inside with snacks, and then shat in her backpack,” Sun said.

Sun added that her rodent sighting was “horrifying.”

“It is horrifying, it’s like a horror movie. My roommate tried to record the sound of the mouse munching, and all she got was the sound of me crying,” she said.

Danny T. Liu ’27 said having mice in his dorm put him “on edge.”

“You’re not sure if you’re gonna win, or if you’re gonna make it out. But you’re always playing this game,” Liu said.

“Ensuring a clean and healthy living space for all students is always a priority,” College spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo wrote in a statement. “Several steps are being taken to mitigate the issues, including the assignment of pest control and custodial crews making regular visits and treating points of entry.”

Though students in affected dorms reported both mouse and rat sightings, The Crimson could not verify the presence of rats. Palumbo did not comment on possible rat sightings.

According to several students and an email to Canaday Hall residents obtained by The Crimson, Yard Operations laid traps and returned to check them over spring break “in an effort to more aggressively treat the mice problem.”

Despite an increase in traps and student efforts to mitigate the issue, several freshmen said they continue to see rodents in their dorms.

Canaday resident Noah G. Plattner ’27 said none of the traps in his suite were effective, barring one “traumatic” catch.

“One of the traps worked partially, so it injured the mouse and she crawled under my roommate’s bed, and my roommate had to finish her off with a bottle of mouthwash and he just slapped her until she exploded — disgusting, traumatic, actually just horrendous,” Plattner said.

Plattner added that he has also seen mutilated mice in other students’ traps.

“I came to my friend’s dorm, and she was like ‘Oh, do you want to see the half rat?’ because the trap had snapped the rat in half. I left that dorm and never came back,” he said.

Several students said that Harvard’s high sticker price makes the problem more frustrating.

“As Harvard students you pay so much money to come here,” Gupta said. “But I don’t understand why it’s so difficult to just seal everything off properly and get rid of this problem, because it seems like it’s been there for years.”

Plattner said his peers are both “traumatized” and “accustomed to” dealing with rodents in their dorms.

“It’s just a fact of life at this point,” he said.

—Staff writer Jo B. Lemann can be reached at jo.lemann@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jo_Lemann.

—Staff writer Azusa M. Lippit can be reached at azusa.lippit@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @azusalippit or on Threads @azusalippit.

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