Returning to her dorm after Christmas, Alejandra Cockrell found that she had a uninvited and unwanted roommate who moved in over the break – a rat.
Her roommate, Alexzandria Washington, freshman child development major, said the bottoms of the front and bathroom doors were chewed from end to end. Wood chippings were all over the place.
“I just thought our other roommate (did it), but (the front door) was chewed from the inside, and nothing was wrong with the outside,” Washington said.
But what sealed the deal were rat droppings, and the two-inch hole gnawed through the bottom of a kitchen cabinet.
“We left the (the dorm) really clean because we knew we were going to be gone for a few (weeks),” Washington said.
Cockrell contacted her resident adviser, who looked around the room.
Maintenance put out glue traps the next day.
After a week, Cockrell, freshman child development and premed major, and her roommates told maintenance that the rat was still living there.
They saw bits of rat hair stuck in the glue traps, but no rat.
Cockrell had her mom and uncle put out snap traps with peanut butter and poison.
“We told them the rat was still there,” Cockrell said.
Three weeks after the signs of the rat were first spotted, Cockrell asked Jason Andrews, community director for park north at student housing, to see about moving to a different dorm.
Cockrell and Washington moved into emergency housing for one night, and were then told that they would have to move back into their room in building three.
“We kept telling them we wanted to move to another room,” Cockrell said.
Cockrell said they brought their parents to talk to Andrews. Cockrell and Washington said they were moved to building four at the end of January.
Their rat problems did not end with the move to a new room or for their old roommates.
“We had rats on our balcony,” Washington said.
They put out poison and snap traps to get rid of the rats that had begun using their balcony as a caf?.
“They were straight chilling on the balcony,” Cockrell said.
Cockrell said she saw four rats out on the balcony at each one at a different time.
Cockrell said the poison worked best at getting rid of the rats, and they have not had any signs of rats in their room for over a month.
Kia Kay Lester, sophomore biology major, stayed in the dorm room after Cockrell and Washington moved out at the end of January.
Lester said a rat ate through two of her backpacks, one in February and one later April. A rat also ate through Lester roommate’s sweater and purse, and trash bags in the kitchen.
Lester said she made five calls to maintenance between January and April concerning rat droppings and the glue traps.
“Get maintenance was real quick to rid of the (rat) pellets,” Lester said.
Lester said she came close to moving out of the room when a rat ran across her foot while she was in the bathroom in early April.
“I was washing my face in the bathroom when my roommate said there was rat in the hallway,” Lester said. “She said it looked confused, and it banged right into my foot. After that, all I remember was running and hopping a lot.”
Lester said she has not had any problems lately, but she still sees rats outside at night.
Danielle Hoffman 19, freshman liberal studies, a roommate of Lester, said she has heard people at night talking about seeing rats outside.
“Last week someone was making a commotion, they said ‘Oh, my god there’s a rat.'” Hoffman said. “Personally I haven’t seen any, thank goodness.”
Stephen Reeves, supervisor of maintenance at Residential Life, said maintenance received reports of rats about two months ago but nothing recently. Reeves said he did not remember how many reports were received. He said Dewey Pest Control does monthly services in the dorms.
“Any pests reports we consider a priority,” Reeves said.
Maintenance is only allowed to use glue traps to catch rats and mice, not poison and snap traps.
Reeves said rat problems are not unique to CSUN and the surrounding area.
“This whole valley has a problem with rats,” he said.
Reeves said students living in the dorms have a number of ways to contact maintenance about rat problems, including filling out online reports to maintenance and telling their residential advisers.
“We do encourage (students) to keep their dorms clean,” Reeves said.
Peter Gallego, vice president of administration and finance for the Residence Halls Association, said the RHA has put out fliers alerting students about problems with rats or ants. Gallego said students can give RHA a call.
Gallego said that the topic of rat problems have been brought up at few general meetings, and RHA brought the issue to maintenance.
“We want to try to help residents to help resolve (pests problems),” Gallego said.
Cockrell and Washington said they have seen rats on the dorm grounds at night.
“We see them on the trees and on the walls,” Cockrell said. “And we just run away.”