Bat infestations and bites plague student residence buildings

Over 50 bats found in dorms and houses without
air conditioning or recent renovations
Samuel Boudreau – Editor in Chief
A Little Brown Bat captured in Compton Hall after residents sought
rabies shots from local hospitals (photo courtesy: Mei Daly ’26)

At the end of her first week at The College of Wooster, Celena McCabe ’26 noticed
an unusual mark on her leg. “I decided to check myself,” said McCabe, “and I saw a
weird little mark.” She drove to the Wooster Community Hospital, where medical
professionals told her she was bit by a bat. “I was technically bitten on the 26th of
August,” said McCabe, “but I did not figure out [that I had a bite] until
the 29th. The hospital, however, was out of rabies shots, a fact later confirmed by
The Wooster Daily Record. With the absence of rabies vaccines, McCabe traveled to Lodi, Ohio, to receive an initial dose of the rabies vaccine along with six shots of
immunoglobulin. According to records from the Wooster Community Hospital,
McCabe continues to receive the rest of her rabies vaccine doses in Wooster.
McCabe, a third-floor Compton resident, did not see a bat in her room but frequently
saw bats flying throughout Compton’s hallways. Across the hall, Mei Daly ’26 noticed a bat on her windowsill on Sunday, Aug. 29. The bat disappeared from her room, but after taking
a nap later in the day, she noticed a swelling bite on her leg. “My friend was bitten
by a bat on Friday night,” said Daly, “because I knew other people who had been
bitten, I knew this clearly was not a mosquito bite.”

Bat bite pictured on Celena McCabe’s ’26 leg, as she recieves immunoglobulin shots. (photo courtesy: Celena McCabe ’26)


From Aug. 12 to Sept. 5, Campus Safety reported 52 bats in residential spaces. Bat
infestations in the College’s dorms and campus houses made headlines throughout
Northeast Ohio and eerily echoed bat infestations in the early portion of the 2021
fall semester, where a total 42 bats called various residence and academic buildings
home, confirmed by Campus Safety. “What we are seeing this year is bat pups
following insects to eat,” said Beau Mastrine, Director of Facilities Budget & Project
Administration. “The birth rate appears to be higher than normal this year.”
In a breakdown of which dorms had bats, campus safety reported that Holden had
30 bats, Westminster Lodge had 5, Kenarden Lodge had 4 and Wagner Hall had 1. “I
know that we have had a few students bitten in Compton Hall,” said Joe Kirk,
Director of Campus Safety, “but in those cases the students have not seen the bats,
but woke up with bat bites so Compton Hall is not on this list, but we have had bat
issues there.” All of the dorms that were reported by Campus Safety to have bat
incidents — Holden, Wagner, Kenarden, Compton and Westminster — are all dorms
without air conditioning. When asked how the bat entered her room, Daly said the
tiny mammal entered through her window screen. “I did not take the screen out or
anything,” said Daly, “I just put my fan in front of the window.” “There was a nice
little hole in my screen,” they continued, “and they can fit through about a pencil-
sized hole.” Mastrine said that there are multiple reasons for bat infestations in
residence buildings. “To clarify, bats are gaining access due to doors being left
open, damaged screens and AC units that are not approved to be installed,” said
Mastrine.


On Wednesday, Aug. 31, Dean Cliff Bobbit, Dean Ashley Reid, Kirk, Facilities Staff
Tom Lockard (ONDR Nuisance Wildlife License Professional) and other college staff
held a meeting in the Compton main lounge for residents to provide information on
the current bat situation in the City of Wooster and on campus. They also discussed
efforts to seal up building envelopes with screens or door props and other
preventative measures. “This is an opportunity to talk about what to do if you see a
bat in your room or common space,” said Jake Marion, Assistant Director of
Residence Life, in an email to Compton resi dents. “College protocols for bats, our
work with Wayne County Health Dept. to test bats, and our commitment to
supporting students.”


At the meeting, McCabe shared a message with administrative members “We pay
the same as students living in non-hazardous environments,” read the statement. “This school is very costly and we deserve and pay for fair treatment. Students
alleged that they were being forced out of our room due to fear of more bites and
that they spent the night on the floor of Bornhuetter Hall. “Wooster wants to give all
their students equality,” said Daly, “it is not equal for us to be paying the same
amount as people in A.C. dorms…”


Along with dorms, multiple houses had bat infestations from early August to
September. Houses with bats include Lewis House (3 bats), Colonial House (2 bats),
Corner House (1 bat), Troyer House (1 bat), Keiffer House (1 bat), Miller Manor (2
bats), Yost House (1 bat) and Gable House (1 bat), according to Campus Safety.
Lewis House residents claimed that an additional two bats entered their house. “A
lot of them came through our window screens and not properly sealed holes in the
attic door and pipes,” said Ann Venditti ’24, a Lewis House resident.
Colonial House residents, home to the Women of Images executive board, had to
temporarily relocate themselves due to bat infestations. “We believe the bats
brought in insects that have caused members of the house to relocate,” said Aku
Unvu ’25, co-President of Women of Images. “This experience has truly changed my
outlook on the College and how it treats its students.”

“ Wooster wants to give all their students equality. It is
not equal for us to be paying the same amount as
people in A.C. dorms…”– Mei Daly ’26


Kenarden and Wagner, have not been renovated since 1991. When asked if Holden,
Compton or Westminster received past full-scale renovations, Mastrine answered
“N/A.” In 2012, Dober Lidsky Mathey (DLM), a campus planning firm, published a
“Campus Plan” for The College of Wooster, calling to “[r]enovate existing student
housing, one or two buildings per year on a schedule that will allow the College to
complete renovations within the next 10 years.” The firm conducted a survey of the
student-body regarding housing conditions and recommendations. The document
stated that “The sequence of housing to be renovated are: Wagner, Compton,
Andrews, Douglass, Bissman, Holden, Armington and Stevenson.”


Arthur J. Lidsky, President of DLM, stated that when most Colleges have renovation
plans, “whether it’s in a master plan or not, it’s really dependent on fundraising and
what the funds are that might come in and will help advance a particular project.” “I
really don’t know what the situation is [at Wooster],” he said, “but there is a real
dependency upon funding and donor interests in what they would like to put their
name on.”


Eight years later, in 2020, Hastings + Chivetta, an architectural firm that specializes
in campus master planning, developed an update to the College’s 2012 Master Plan.
Hastings + Chivetta’s involvement in an updated plan dates back to November 19,
2019, when the firm visited campus to discuss the plan with the campus
community.


According to their website, Hastings + Chivetta created a 10-year list of priorities
in the following order: (1) New 12-court tennis complex on the Wooster Inn site (2021 2022), (2) Phase 1 Replacement of Program Houses in the North, South or East Residential Precincts (2023), (3) Renovate Burton D. Morgan Hall to accommodate relocating Communication Sciences & Disorders from Wishart Hall (2025-2026), (4) Construct Parking and a New Grounds Facility on University Street between Spink and Gasche Streets (2024), (5) Expand and renovate Freedlander Theater and renovate Wishart Hall (2025-2026), (6) Renovate Papp Stadium with New Entry Plaza, Grand stands and replacement of Artificial Turf & Track Surface (2027-2028), (7) Phase 2 replacement of Program Houses in the North, South or East Residential Precincts (2029-2030), (8) Phased renovation of Holden Hall (2030-2031).

“A master plan is to help the College set priorities,” said Mastrine. “It’s up to the
College to put those plans in place as funding is available.” Mastrine said facilities
presented a plan to the Board of Trustees in February. “I would expect at our next
board meeting we will get some direction on next steps for the housing plan.”
Mastrine also said that the College is taking steps toward a Holden Hall renovation.
“We are beginning to have conversations about Holden Hall.” The College’s 10-year master plan does not include renovation plans specifically for Compton, Wagner, Douglass or Bissman. When asked about other first-year dorms mentioned in the 2012 plan, Mastrine responded that “…in the master plans of the past, [they] were listed, but currently there are no plans in place.” When reflecting on her bat encounter at the College, Daly said she was on the brink of leaving the College. “I was telling my mother if one more thing happened,” said Daly, “I’m leaving.”

2 thoughts on “Bat infestations and bites plague student residence buildings

  1. Pingback: The Wooster Voice
  2. This is ridiculous and so extremely unsafe. Not all students have the access to get to the hospital for care, or even funds, and I know as a former student that Wellness is a JOKE. The school better be paying for all of these medical bills…

    Like

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