By Lisa Martin
Workers from City College’s information technology services (ITS) department made a gruesome discovery on Wednesday, Oct. 23 when they opened a closet in Rosenberg Library and found rodent feces scattered across the floor.
Upon their search of telecommunications closet 406B, one of the workers saw a dead rat and notified administrators that they would not be working in the room under those conditions.
The closet is located to the right of the library’s entrance. Sources and photos of the room confirm that the floor was covered in rat feces on that day.
Alexandre Devall has worked in ITS at City College for five years and said he had never seen anything like it.
“The floor was completely covered in rat feces, I mean everywhere. In order to walk in there and not step on any rat feces you had to be really careful. There was a dead rat on the wall opposite of the main entrance,” Devall said.
ITS workers perform routine maintenance in this particular telecommunications closet about two times a year. Before October’s incident, the last time the closet had been accessed was in June when the networking department replaced the switches. Rodent feces were found in the closet then, as well.
Network Manager Tim Ryan is in charge of the networking department. He was one of the workers who accessed the closet in June.
“[B]efore I would send a team of our technicians in there I just wanted to make sure that it wasn’t any kind of a safety hazard or anything like that,” Ryan said. “So I put on a mask and some gloves and I vacuumed it up in a few minutes and that’s all it took to clean it up at that time.”
Devall and a member of the networking department checked the telecommunications closet on Monday, October 28, and even though the space had been cleaned, Devall said he saw there was feces again. “Not as many as before, but you could see them on the ground,” he said.
“In response to issues raised earlier this week, the College hired Orkin [a pest control company] to analyze the situation in Rosenberg Library and implement appropriate remediation measures, which is the standard course of action if rodents are reported in a campus building,” a spokesperson for the college said.
The spokesperson said that issues with facilities could be directed to Dean of Evans and Southeast Center Torrance Bynum or submitted as a work-order through the school’s online SchoolDude request system.
In the past, Orkin has laid out sticky traps at the library, surveyed the building and talked to employees about problem areas, according to one classified staff member.
The issues with rodents are not isolated to this one telecommunications closet. Even if staff at the library hadn’t had encounters with rodents themselves, most of those spoken to had at least heard that there was an issue.
When asked about if there was an issue with rodents at the library a woman at the learning assistance center who did not give her name said, “Yes, but not overwhelming.”
The offices of the Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) are located on the third floor of the library. Although Olga Galvez has only been department chair of DSPS since July, she said she has also had a close encounter with a dead rodent.
She was in a third floor storage room at the library looking at some equipment, when she realized her foot was sticking to one of the Orkin sticky traps. She looked down and saw a dead mouse stuck to it as well.
Galvez said none of her direct reports in DSPS had expressed any concerns to her about the rodent situation. When she reported her own encounter, she said the body was quickly cleaned up.
A classified staff member from the second floor, who asked not to be named, said he believed a stricter enforcement of the food and drink policy and proper garbage disposal practices at the library would help discourage rodents from making the library their home.
The official policy of the school is that food or beverages “MAY NOT BE TAKEN [sic] into auditoriums (including the Diego Rivera Theatre), classrooms, laboratories, gymnasiums or libraries,” as stated in both the Faculty Handbook and the Classified Employee Handbook put out by the college’s human resources department.
Though this policy describes a total prohibition of food from these spaces, this is not what happens in practice at many City College buildings.