Photo courtesy of Jessica McLaughlin. McLaughlin was forced to kill many yellow jackets after they invaded her room in Tucker Hall.
A student at the University of Rhode Island had to wait several days to have wasps in her dormitory room removed after miscommunication meant that the appropriate people were not immediately alerted of the issue.
Freshman Jessica McLaughlin has experienced several wasps getting into her dormitory room in Tucker Hall since the beginning of the school year. However, on the weekend of Oct. 26, McLaughlin said close to 15 wasps were in her room.
McLaughlin told her RA about the issue. However, Facilities Services records show the RA never filed a work order to have the wasps removed.
The hall director of Tucker Hall was reportedly never made aware of the issue by an RA. Since then, the hall director has talked to the RA’s in the building, according to the assistant director of Housing and Residential Life, Jeffrey Plouffe.
McLaughlin said she was stung by the wasps four times in one night. The following day, Saturday, Oct. 27, McLaughlin called Housing and Residential Life customer service. However, because it was a Saturday, there was no one in the office to respond to the call until Monday.
“It’s inconvenient that they don’t have it [HRL customer service] open on weekends,” McLaughlin said.
On Monday, Oct. 29, Plouffe was made aware of the issue and took immediate steps to make sure it was resolved. Plouffe said he was made aware of the issue at approximately 1 p.m., and by 3:30 p.m., a University-contracted exterminator was called to the dorm room.
“I immediately called in a work order and had them process it for DeBug, which is our pest control vendor,” Plouffe said. “I then called the owner of DeBug and said ‘I need someone here immediately.’”
McLaughlin said she was not in the room when the exterminator came but said her roommate told her exterminators did, in fact, come around 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29.
Plouffe filed another work order to repair the small hole in the wall that the wasps were using the entrance to the room. He also requested that DeBug return to McLaughlin’s room two days later to assure no more wasps were gaining entry to the room.
As of Tuesday, Nov. 6, McLaughlin said some wasps were still getting into the room, although not nearly as many as before.
While Plouffe said he responded to the incident as fast as he could once he was notified, the issues McLaughlin experienced highlight that better communication could help students in similar situations.
“Once we know about it, the response is almost immediate,” Plouffe said. “But, it’s a question about us knowing about it. Maybe that’s the bit of the model that we need to work on, that communication piece.”
In order to make sure either Facilities Services or Housing and Residential Life is aware of a potential maintenance issue, there are several steps a student should follow.
“Go to your RA first,” Plouffe said. “Your RA will process it [the work order] in Tririga. If you feel you have waited too long for a response or the problem has gotten worse, then you call [401-874] 4151. They will get me and I will get on the problem.”
Plouffe said if a student has a maintenance issue on a weekend when the Housing and Residential Life office is closed, they should first contact their resident advisor. Facilities services are able to respond on Saturday’s if needed. Plouffe said if the issue is not addressed in a timely manner on the weekend students should call the URI police non-emergency number, the police will then contact the appropriate person to address the issue.
Plouffe said that whenever a maintenance issue occurs, one of his primary worries is how it affects a student’s ability to go about their daily routine. He said rooms must be in quality condition so students can focus on schoolwork, rather than worrying about a maintenance issue.
“I’m not so concerned about the damage to the building or that problem, but I’m concerned about the amount of time [students] spend having to think about getting that problem solved,” Plouffe said. “I don’t want them to have to do that.”
Plouffe wants students to know that Housing and Residential Life takes maintenance issues seriously and wants to respond to them as quickly as possible. He that said even when the Housing and Residential Life office is closed, he will still come to campus if there are issues that need to be addressed. Plouffe did this last week.
“I won’t walk away when a student is having a problem,” Plouffe said. “We’re going to stay and make sure that it gets corrected. I’m not saying that to promote me, I’m saying that because that’s what my entire staff is like.”