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Kings Court English College House on Jan. 25. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

Kings Court English College House is experiencing a “rapid increase” in rodent and pest sightings, specifically in its Kings Court building.

Residents on every floor of Kings Court — one of the two buildings in the first-year college house — told The Daily Pennsylvanian that they have seen mice in their rooms and in the hallways since returning from winter break. Sightings have become more frequent and widespread since then, they said. Students who live in English House — which is separated from Kings Court by a courtyard — did not report seeing mice. 

“Half of the people I’ve talked to have found mice in their rooms,” Engineering first year Raymond Feng, who lives on the fourth and highest floor of Kings Court, said. “Our floor is on edge since some mice have been found in the communal lounge too."

House Coordinator Jessica Ramos declined to comment. Faramarz Vakili, the executive director of operations and maintenance at Facilities and Real Estate Services, wrote in a statement to the DP that FRES has been working with Residential Services to address the “recent increase” in pest sightings.

“We believe this uptick is due to the prolonged cold weather and the exterior street work on 36th Street by the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD),” Vakili wrote. “KCEH traditionally has a very low number of pest sightings and this rapid increase in reporting prompted FRES staff along with our pest management contractor to [respond] immediately.”

Vakili went on to write that FRES and pest management have taken several steps to identify and close pest entry points, including perimeter checks, room-to-room inspections, and applying or repairing wall caulking. He wrote that the University has also improved baiting and trapping in common areas of University facilities, added baiting on building exteriors and in mechanical rooms, and installed devices that fill the gap between doors and floors.

A resident on the fourth floor, who requested anonymity due to fear of employer retaliation, said that mice have been seen “in rooms, hallways, and common spaces,” including the floor’s lounge. The resident said they had seen mice “multiple times” in their own room.

The fourth-floor resident said that the mouse sightings in Kings Court began last semester. College and Wharton first year Bryce Li, who lives on the third floor, said that everybody on his floor was initially told by the college house to submit a maintenance report because they needed to demonstrate that the infestation is a floor-wide problem.  

“An exterminator came in and set mouse traps, but I'm not sure how effective those are,” Li said. “People have said that the mice they’ve seen are way bigger than a typical mouse trap,” he said. 

Li said that he thinks the mice are traveling between rooms through the vents, citing a friend who saw a mouse disappear behind a radiator. He said he wished that maintenance services had been more responsive to address the issue.

“If all 50 of us don’t fill out a maintenance request for literal mice on our floor, then nothing will get done,” he said. 

The fourth-floor resident echoed Li’s sentiments, explaining that maintenance is not available on the weekends. 

“[I]f someone sees a mouse Friday afternoon, they won’t get a trap until Monday at the earliest,” they said, adding that they would like to see a more unified response rather than placing mouse traps one by one. 

The mice infestation came as a surprise to Li and other residents, who cited KCECH's reputation as one of the cleaner first-year dormitories. 

Vakili wrote that residents of KCECH can help the University control pests by reporting sightings immediately. 

“Building residents can assist in our efforts by doing some of the good practices that keep pests away from our spaces, such as storing food in tightly closed containers, cleaning up dishes and wastebaskets regularly, and clearing out piles of papers, cardboard, etc., that are attractive places for pests to hide,” Vakili wrote. 

Feng said he was especially surprised that so many rooms on the fourth floor have mice since it is the highest floor. Li agreed, saying that the infestation was unexpected because he perceived Kings Court as one of the nicer college houses.

Residents have been told by residential advisors to keep their food in airtight containers. Feng said that he and his roommate have agreed to stop eating inside their room.

In 2011, KCECH received a $10 million makeover, its most recent significant renovation, and in 2019, Penn installed air conditioning in the college house. 

College first year Angela Gomez, who lives on the first floor of Kings Court, said that one solution she has been using is an under door seal. Gomez said that she hasn’t seen a mouse in her room yet.

“I've definitely been really scared. Now every time I open my door, I just stand there and listen to see if I hear a mouse,” said Li.