Cleanliness: A Common(s) problem

Eliminating pests requires staff and student cooperation

By David Coursey

Assistant Opinions Editor

Summary: It is well known that The Commons has an issue with mice and cockroaches. What students don’t see are the attempts to counteract the infestation.

   Seeing a mouse scurry across the floor when you’re trying to enjoy your lunch can be a real appetite killer. Worse yet, watching a cockroach drag itself across your table might cause you to leave the room and never return. These are experiences with which some at UMBC are unfortunately familiar.

One student, junior psychology and philosophy double major Jeff Mattingly, once saw a mouse in the Social Justice Lounge. “I watched it run into a hole in the wall,” he said, “and when I went to tell the desk they acted like it was no big deal.”

Most consumers have some choice in what they eat. If pests show up in a restaurant,  people go elsewhere. As students at a relatively isolated college, it is more difficult for those at UMBC to have that option. Students rely on the Commons to be a clean space, which it has failed to be.

There is no doubt that students deserve a clean place to study, learn and prosper. Students take these pests as a sign of an unsanitary building. However, there’s a side to this that students don’t see as well: the methods employed by various groups in an effort to keep The Commons clean and sanitary.

Not only does UMBC rely on the dining staff hired by Chartwells to make sure food spaces are kept clean, but they also work with the housekeeping contractor ABM as well as a pest control contractor, Regional Pest Management.

Christian Alexander, the Operations Manager who oversees the facilities side of the Commons, sheds some light on this. “The Commons has worked with RPM extensively to reinforce the perimeter of the facility to prevent pest intrusion,” he said.

In response to the worsening infestation of pests, RPM has stepped up the number of times their technician sweeps the Commons. Even when an RPM tech isn’t on site, the Commons staff can address any noticeable pests.

This seems to be an effective, albeit slow process. Christian Alexander maintains that it has helped, saying, “we have noted markedly less sightings in the last few weeks and things are trending in the right direction.” He does note that despite there being improvements, “this does not mean we are done.”

While it is good to know that UMBC is responsive and capable of taking care of the situation, pest control shouldn’t get bad enough that it’s noticeable by students in the first place. Pest prevention, rather than pest extermination, needs to be the priority.

There are things students can do to help the situation. It’s important for the staff of the Commons to know that students notice unclean spaces, and reporting sightings can go a long way to accomplishing that. Creating an atmosphere in which these infestations aren’t acceptable means it will be more likely to be taken care of.

UMBC is a community, and in any community there’s an obligation to help if you are able. Letting staff know that there’s a problem is just one step in alleviating it. Make sure to throw all trash away, and if you make any messes, let a member of the cleaning staff know. Keeping these spaces clean not only helps staff, but it goes a long way in keeping away pests.