Soldiers Field Park residents react to recent mice sightings and seek solutions.
On August 4th, the HBS Parents Group Chat exploded. What had previously been a medium for playground meet-ups became the hotspot for a social movement. The issue: mice.
It all started when Meli Kerr (MBA partner, ’23) posted a petition: “SFP Mouse Problem.” It burst onto the group chat like an ice-cold water balloon: shocking, uncomfortable, and a little bit thrilling. Apparently, several households in Soldiers Field Park (SFP), the on-campus apartments, had seen multiple mice in their homes. A line from the petition outlines the horror: “Mouse poop is being found in our beds, on the floor where babies are trying to eat it, [and] there’s nothing we can do about it.” The group chat burst into hysteria.
Shaquille Walker (MBA, ’23) pleaded in all caps for people to sign the petition: “PLEASE DO IT FOR MY SAKE IF FOR NOTHING ELSE MY MIND IS MELTING FROM THE MICE STRESS.” A post asking for a thumbs-up if residents had personal experience with mice in their apartments garnered seven likes. An RC student created a mock-up of a yard sign declaring “the mice gotta go!” People shared pictures of themselves holding dead mice. The same RC then, to great fanfare, announced that he had ordered a proof of the yard sign and it would arrive next week. And all the while, the petition signatures ticked up and up. At the time of this writing, the petition has 109 supporters.
Many of the mouse stories are straight out of a horror movie. “We were out of town, nothing in the house, no food or anything, but we heard about the mice and asked our neighbors to check on our place,” reported Rachel Li (MBA, ’23). “They walked in and found a mouse dead on the floor.” Then later, after a thorough deep-cleaning, she found more evidence of the pests. “I found pieces of mouse poop in the middle of the room. The night before I had washed everything by hand, so it had to be new.” Part of the reason the petition received such a response was this built-up frustration experienced by many SFP residents.
“It’s a real problem,” says Shaquille Walker, father of two. “I’ve had two different apartments [in SFP], four different mice that I’ve seen, many no-shows or late shows by maintenance, and a dozen hours of tracking and recording mice.” Others shared similar frustrating experiences with on-campus maintenance. Meli Kerr reports she spent over $150 in mouse traps and other solutions. “It’s incredibly frustrating,” she said at the time of the petition posting. “Especially considering that I’m 37 weeks pregnant and have a three-year-old.” Her husband, Nick Kerr (MBA, ’23) has racked up several mouse kills in an effort to protect his family.
The Kerrs are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to mice and life. Nick is an EC student with a background in high-intensity finance and is rumored to wake up at 4am every day. Meli is a mother of two (their second was born in the middle of the mouse hysteria!) and a backbone of the campus community, the first to respond to questions, requests, and concerns from other HBS parents and residents. It’s only natural that they led the charge against the mice. Fortunately for their fellow students, they have seen success in recent weeks. I spoke with Nick at the end of August, several weeks after the petition was posted.
“[Harvard University Housing Services (HUHS)] sent three pest control people and someone from maintenance yesterday,” Nick said. “When we first contacted them it took them a week to get here, but since then, they have been pretty responsive and showed up mostly when they said they would.” Nick recommends that residents with mouse sightings be persistent in reaching out to maintenance.
Harvard University Housing Services (HUHS) declined to answer any questions related to this article.
While I wasn’t able to get any information from HUHS, I did have two different sources talk to me about mice. Unfortunately for us all, mice are a common Boston pest. While they may not have quite as large an “ick” factor as rats do (an advantage Boston has over New York, a small comfort), mice still harbor plenty of disease and allergens. They thrive in old buildings due to dated sealing methods.
In the SFP complex, there appear to be two main points of mouse entry: 1) new A/C units installed by a third party, and 2) radiators. The A/C units cannot be modified because they are not under HUHS purview, but the radiators can be improved in many cases. The Kerr household had a hole in their radiator, which it appears can be fixed by pest control. They are hopeful that plugging it will improve their situation.
Meanwhile, the residents continue their efforts to fight against the mice. They swap recommendations for mouse traps and share updates on the petition. The mock-up sign that the RC made arrived, and he gave it to the Kerrs. The RC also made business cards to pass out with the same message: the mice gotta go.
Brynne Gosch is an MBA RC partner. She has a Master’s in Public Health from University of California – Los Angeles and most recently worked in infectious disease diagnostics. She lives in Soldiers Field Park and has not seen any mice in her apartment, but keeps vigilant watch.