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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Facilities Services works to address mice problem, construction noise affecting Coffrin Hall

Students living in Coffrin Hall have experienced disruptions from mice and construction noise.
Students living in Coffrin Hall have experienced disruptions from mice and construction noise.

This semester, residents of Coffrin Hall, one of Middlebury’s predominantly sophomore residence halls, have recently experienced both noise from the construction of the new first-year residence hall and a mice infestation. Though these issues have impacted students’ experience over the first weeks of the semester, Facilities Services are attempting to address the noise complaints while ensuring that the dorm construction project continues to run on schedule. 

Makayla Reed ’26, a resident of Coffrin Hall, said that her first encounter with a mouse was during the early arrival period on campus on Aug. 30 at about 11 p.m. near the fourth floor entrance. Reed was helping a friend move in when she came face-to-face with the mouse, so she didn’t take immediate action. 

“However, the next day the mouse was in my room,” Reed told The Campus. “That was pretty awful. I didn’t know what to do. I just stopped what I was doing to start recording and the mouse froze so we had a little staring contest until it scurried away under my door.”

Reed also noticed that some of the snacks in her room had been opened and nibbled on the day before, but did not think much of it. After seeing the mouse in her room, she put it together that the mouse had eaten the snacks and called Public Safety, who jokingly said they could “write the mouse a parking ticket,” and directed her to contact Facilities instead.

The following day, Reed called Facilities, who offered to give her a mouse trap. Reed explained that she had seen multiple mice, and that there seemed to be a mouse infestation in the building, and Facilities promised to put up a number of traps around the residence hall.

“That night, I went to walk around Coff to see if there were mouse traps set up, and not only did I not find traps, but instead I found a new mouse,” Reed said. “I knew it was different because it was much smaller than the one in my room the night prior. This was incredibly frustrating because not only did I call early that morning to make sure they had ample time to set up traps, but now I knew that Coffrin had a mice problem, not just a singular mouse.” 

Reed continued to communicate with Facilities about the mouse problem, and the following day they put up mouse traps around the building.

Jodie Keith, manager of Custodial and Support Services, said that mice complaints around this time of year are common, so Facilities has developed standard protocols for when the issue arises. 

In addition to placing mice traps around the residence hall, Keith said a carpenter checked for any potential entry points to the building and sealed them up. “We also contacted the Pest Control contractor that we use on campus, and they set bait stations around the exterior of Coffrin,” she added.

Since then, Reed has not had any more encounters with mice and Keith has not received any additional reports about mice. Kieth said that if more mice are seen in Coffrin, Custodial and Support Services will reassess the issue and work with the pest control contractor to find a solution.

The Campus has previously reported on similar animal infestations in residence halls such as the Inn on the Green in fall 2022.

In addition to the mice problem, the recent construction noise has also impacted the living environment for students in Coffrin. Over the summer, the college announced the start of construction on a new first-year residence hall, which is scheduled to be completed by spring 2025. Norm Cushman, associate vice president of operations, and Michael Moser, director of facilities services, are the co-managers of the project. 

“The current work program involves site excavation and construction of the building’s concrete foundations,” Cushman said. “The construction site was flooded during heavy rains in July. As a result, the project schedule was delayed by three weeks as crews had to remove a significant volume of mud from previously excavated areas. Ledge removal (the hammering noise) was then extended into the start of the fall semester.”

Coffrin Hall resident Adelle MacDowell ’26 said that when they first arrived on campus, the construction had a major impact on their ability to sleep peacefully anytime during the hours of 6:30 a.m. through 5 p.m. for five or six days of the week. MacDowell lives on the third floor in Coffrin North, which directly faces the construction site. 

“It was impossible to sleep through the noise, even with our windows closed and white noise,” MacDowell said. “My roommate and I could hardly have a conversation in our room, and many days I developed a headache by the afternoon if I spent too much time in my room. It was frustrating not to have my room feel like a space where I could relax and do work.”

MacDowell said they are glad that the construction is not as noisy anymore, especially on weekends, but that does not change the major disruption during the first few weeks of school.

“The noise and disruption of the construction outside of Coffrin has had a decidedly negative impact on my learning, living and rest here at Middlebury this fall,” MacDowell said.

Cushman has heard student concerns about the noise of the ledge hammering and is optimistic that the bulk of the ledge removal work is now complete, so the noise should be less prominent moving forward. The project is now proceeding on schedule after the previous flooding-induced delays.

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“Should further ledge issues become apparent as excavation continues, further hammering may be required,” Cushman said. “The next phase of the project, erection of the building’s steel frame, will begin this fall.”

Although the semester got off to a rocky start for some Coffrin residents due to the mice problem and construction noise, students and Facilities remain optimistic that the problems have been or will soon be resolved.

Editor’s note: Adelle MacDowell ’26 is a layout editor for The Campus.