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Sorin has bats?

| Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A question I never thought I would be asking on freshmen move-in day.

It was August 18 and my mind was filled with anxiety and excitement for the friends, football games and classes of college life. However, just as I was settling into my new dorm, Sorin, I discovered my third-floor quad had more to offer than just decades of tradition.

A bat.

As my quad-mates and I fled into the hallway, I couldn’t help but be surprised that such a pest was allowed to reside in my future room. I expected to find the occasional spider or cockroach in the 130-year-old residence hall, but I figured the infestation would stop with insects.

After this initial shock, I extensively researched the diseases bats carry and the risks they present to humans. I found that bats are the most common vectors of rabies — a disease that leads to a violent and certain death if not treated before symptoms present themselves. Although the risk of being bitten is low for the average person, when our campus home is infested with these creatures the risk increases exponentially — we just have to hope we can get treatment in time if infected.

Since that eventful first day, I have experienced six other bat encounters and there have been many others I have not personally witnessed. Many would ask what to do when you find a bat in your room. Wait an hour for NDSP to respond to your call for help? Call an exterminator to come capture it the next day? Or send a herd of college guys armed with nets and tennis rackets to haphazardly resolve the problem themselves?

Usually it’s the last.

Our calls to NDSP are not considered high priority, and to leave a bat in the dorm overnight while waiting for an exterminator would leave sleeping residents at risk of being bitten without defense. Thus my fellow Sorin Otters and I run around the halls trying to capture the bat so it can be removed and tested for rabies. What an unnecessary stress to have.

How naive of me to think that “bat extermination” would be covered by the large sum of money students pay to the University for room and board every year. Despite our requests for an extensive extermination, nothing serious is being done, and the bats continue to come back. The administration fails to accept its moral responsibility to protect students from physical harm in this respect. And it is not even motivated by the enormous lawsuit that would follow if such a horrible infection were to harm myself or one of my fellow dormmates. And Sorin is not alone — the bats are just an extravagant example of a campus wide dorm maintenance problem.

Lewis has exploding sinks and a slight, but persistent sulfur smell.

Pasquerilla East (along with many other dorms) is infested with stinkbugs.

And, well, Morrissey has been voted one of the worst dorms in America.

And there are countless more examples

The worst part about the administration not addressing these glaring issues is that, beginning with the class of 2022, students will be required to live on campus for six semesters. So, not only will the future Sorin Otters have to live in a bat-infested dorm, but they will not be able to escape until their senior year.

Nonetheless, many dorms are in the process of being renovated, which is a step in the right direction, but unfortunately a slow-developing one. Badin will be brand new next year, Morrissey the year after that and Dillon in 2020. But where is Sorin, or Fisher or Lyons on that list? Often the responsibility to fix these issues is eschewed by statements that it will happen in the future, which is great … for the future. I will go my entire college career without living in a renovated Sorin, and if Sorin is not next on the list, the incoming freshmen will not either. Timeliness is important to the effectiveness of solutions, but it is a factor often ignored by those with power to create change. And to add insult to injury, the Notre Dame price tag continues to rise. Despite having both tuition revenue and an enormous endowment, is there somehow not enough money to fix these important issues? And why should my tuition dollars be spent to renovate Badin when I will never see similar effects of that work myself in Sorin? I may never receive answers to these questions, but I know one thing for sure — no one should be forced to live in a dorm with bats.

I want to emphasize that I’m not trashing the dorm system as a whole, because I genuinely love the tradition of Sorin, and other students who live elsewhere would agree about their own dorms, but there are persistent problems all dorms face that need to be addressed. Students should not be forced to sacrifice personal safety or basic peace of mind in their on campus homes. I’m just wondering how many complaints, or even personal injuries will be necessary for the administration to even bat an eye to these serious and dangerous issues.

Ben Walter


April 22

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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