Back in May 2018, the music building, Building 24, was well known for musically talented students — and rambunctious rats. 

With rodents racing across the ceiling, distracting students left and right, both students and professors of the music department were ready to drive the rodents out. 

Since then, rats no longer take the spotlight in classes.

“I don’t carry no brooms in class anymore, but I’m very vigilant of students not eating in class,” said jazz instructor David Kopplin, who previously hauled a broom to his lectures during the building’s rodent infestation. “In the building we had a rat problem and we don’t want them to return, so let’s not give them a reason to return,” he said.

The music building, Building 24, was declared rodent-free by EHS manager Michael DeSalvio after May 2018. (Ruth Olivares | The Poly Post)

Rodent appearances date back to 2006 when rodent activity first flared up. Two calls coming from individuals of the department were made to the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) department in December 2017, according to Michael DeSalvio, manager of EHS. 

Two suspected rodents causing most of the trouble were caught in the building, according to DeSalvio.

While rodent activity vanished from the music building after that, it wasn’t long until rodents began spreading to buildings nearby. 

Modular buildings 24A, B and C, and the trailers behind Building 24 had a recent encounter with rodents sneaking into podiums and computer equipment on Nov. 2 due to doors left propped open, though DeSalvio stated the problem was resolved on Jan. 7 of this year.

Portable buildings 24A, B and C were treated for rodents in November 2018. Everyone is encouraged to keep doors and windows closed so the pests stay out. Consuming food inside the buildings is discouraged. (Ruth Olivares | The Poly Post)

The dissemination of rodents throughout classes is easy as our campus is surrounded by nature and any hole in a building makes for an easy entry point for these creatures. 

Rodent activity remains under control for the time being, although it may be too early to call it a victory over the vermin. 

As rodents have been a problem for the music building since 2006, safety concerns can be ongoing and are solved in the manner that they are reported to EHS. 

DeSalvio even described safety concerns to EHS as having “treatment cycles.” 

For this reason, safety concerns aren’t ruled a success after being cleared, as new problems can arise over time. 

According to DeSalvio, a safety concern is considered resolved when there is a lack of calls to EHS concerning safety hazards and for DeSalvio, a lack of calls signifies they have treated the root cause of a problem. 

Though the infestation in the music building was stubborn, various new techniques aided in ridding the building of rodents. 

EHS trimmed trees growing above the building, sealed visible holes in the building, including a hole in the roof, and discouraged the music building community from leaving doors propped open or having open food in the building.  

In order to maintain clean facilities, EHS called for the campus community’s cooperation. 

“We try and focus on a preventative side on public awareness and letting the campus community know that we discourage folks from leaving doors propped open with trash cans and different mechanisms because that’s always an open invitation for rodents,” DeSalvio said. 

“They’re just like humans; they’re looking for a source of food, a source of water and shelter,” he said.

Students and faculty in the music building now enjoy a rodent-free environment and are willing to comply with new building policies in order to keep rodents out. 

“Students are encouraged to take their food trash outside, in fact, the music department still doesn’t have any trash cans around the building other than in restrooms,” said Matt Martino, a fourth-year zoology student and saxophone player for Cal Poly Pomona’s Jazz Band and Jazz Combo.

EHS responds to a number of safety concerns, which can be occupational health and safety related or public health-related food safety. 

For safety concerns, EHS can be reached at (909) 869-4697 and concerns can be submitted anonymously online through the Environmental Health and Safety department’s contact page on Cal Poly Pomona’s website, www.cpp.edu/ehs.

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