College addresses LB rodent control

by Laura Gomez / Beacon Staff • February 16, 2012

Facilities
Property management director Mark Hamilton said the department is working to better enforce procedures and policies.
Property management director Mark Hamilton said the department is working to better enforce procedures and policies.

After students voiced concerns over rodent control in the Little Building dorm rooms, the college said it is taking the necessary steps to ensure every call to property management is handled in a timely manner.

“We are supplementing our procedures with all of our staff, and we are enforcing what our procedures have to be with the service that takes the call,” said Marc Hamilton, associate vice president and director of property management.

Located in Phoenix, Ariz., EMCOR, a facilities service call center, manages calls about maintenance problems and work requests that are submitted to Emerson’s facilities department by email, fax, or direct call, depending on the nature of the request, according to Hamilton.

Paris La Rock, a freshman visual and media arts major, said she found mouse droppings in her clothes after returning from winter break. After putting a call into facilities, La Rock said she did not receive a response for a week. 

After investigating this case, Hamilton said the EMCOR call center did not get the information to the facilities department in the way it was supposed to.

“They should have reported the complaint to us with a phone call to the facilities staff on duty,” he said. “We are making sure that [EMCOR knows] what our expectation is and how they must respond.”

Other local universities have different methods of responding to students’ needs. While some also use outside companies, facilities directors at these schools said they are effecient in their response to students needs. 

 

The facilities department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design outsources maintenance calls to a service company located on its campus, said Jennifer Oliver, director of facilities and conference services at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Oliver said Capstone On-Campus Management, a service managing company used by 21 student-housing communities nationwide, is convenient for the students.

Students of MassArt file maintenance service requests by completing a paper or online work order said Oliver.

“We review the work order within 24 hours on business days,” Oliver said. “But for emergencies there is always a staff member on-call.”

Emerson’s facilities department has a similar method for emergencies, where a maintenance staff technician is on-call Monday through Saturday from 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., said Hamilton.

Suffolk University has two on-call facilities technicians who remain on-campus for the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, according to James Moccio, maintenance staff employee. When a student reports a rodent problem, Moccio said, it is addressed right away.

“We send a guy up [to the dorm] to set up a glue trap, call the pest company, and the following day an exterminator comes in.”

Moccio said the facilities staff is very diligent when dealing with any sort of complaint.

“We have a 15 to 20 minute response time, to put the student at ease,” he said. 

According to Hamilton, three business days, or 72 hours, is the time frame when Emerson students should expect a response to any complaint, although he said he is pushing to reduce this to one business day. 

Emerson has 10 maintenance staff employees, and with a similar number of undergraduate students, Wentworth Institute of Technology has 38 maintenance technicians, according to Bob Ferro, director of the Physical Plant department at Wentworth.

“We always like to see the student who is doing the call,” he said.

According to Ferro, if a mouse is sighted in a Wentworth residence hall, students notify their resident assistant, who then calls the Physical Plant office, and utility technicians are sent within an hour to check the situation.

“We set up glue traps that have a peanut butter smell to attract rodents,” said Ferro.

According to Little Building resident Alex Stills, Emerson’s facilities technicians do place snap traps. The freshman journalism major, who has sighted mice in her room, said the traps appear to be an ineffective method.

According to Robert Cormier, president of Ultrafast Pest Control, the exterminator company Emerson has been contracting since 2004, snap traps are preferred because they kill the mouse in a quick way, as opposed to the slower manner of glue traps. 

The Inspectional Services Department of Boston has conducted several inspections on the Little Building’s dining facility. According to their website, Emerson’s Dining Hall was inspected three times in 2010, six times in 2011, and most recently inspected this year on Jan. 6.

The latest inspection report lists one Massachusetts State Sanitary Code violation belonging to the “Insect, Rodent, and Animal Control” category, which is rated as a critical hazard.  

“I can assure you that treatment for that [violation] would have been immediately done in response to a report like that,” said Hamilton, adding that the problem was corrected and the violation has been cleared.

Hamilton urged students who feel they are not getting adequate service to contact him directly.

“We are very concerned about the apparent impression that we don’t care,” he said. “Communicate with us, in any way that is necessary,”

Hamilton said that students must realize that unless the department is notified, they cannot do anything about problematic situations. 

“You [students] are our customers. We care about our customers, and we certainly are making the effort to do what is right,” he said.