Last week at Holloway Commons (HoCo), the largest dining hall at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), a video of a mouse surfaced on the Instagram account “Barstoolunh.”
The video, shot by a UNH student, featured a plump mouse riding the dish return – a machine with trays that brings dirty dishes back to the dish room. Despite being posted only a week ago, the number of views is up to 27,000 and are still rising.
“We were not aware [of the issue] until the videos surfaced,” UNH Spokesperson Erika Mantz said, referring to last week’s video; another video posted to the same Instagram account on Oct. 11 featured a mouse in the corner of one of the seating areas in HoCo, eating something before quickly running out of frame.
The Instagram account hosting the videos posts things exclusively related to UNH students, and has 40,000 followers made up of current students, alumni and potential prospective students. Followers are encouraged to submit their own videos.
“Hospitality Services is aware of the recent mice videos in Holloway Commons and proactively working with Orkin Pest Control,” Mantz said. “Hospitality Services takes this issue very seriously.”
In light of the issue, Holloway Commons went through an “extensive review,” with many parties including Orkin Pest Control and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, participating in the investigation.
In their results, the state health inspector “indicates satisfaction” and that “there is not an unmanageable problem or public safety sanitation concern,” Mantz said.
Furthermore, Holloway Commons workers, Phoung Nguyen and Tracy Phuong have never seen any mice in their time of working at the dining hall – the video was the first time they had heard of the problem.
Nguyen, a junior psychology major, was there when it happened.
“Someone called my main staff to the dish room to catch the mouse, but she couldn’t,” Nguyen said, explaining that she was told “someone would take care of it.”
She added that she “expected it [the mouse] because problems with mice are rather inevitable in such places that deal with food.”
Nguyen is right; places that deal with food will likely have problems with mice, as the rodents can fit into cracks as small as a dime.
Likewise, Phoung, a sophomore business accounting major, first saw the video on Instagram, but has never seen any mice in the kitchen while she was working.
“Since I worked in HoCo from last year, this is my first-time seeing mice, and yes, I was surprised and shocked about how people found it and where it was,” Phoung said.
But the mouse’s surprise spotting isn’t stopping senior finance major Alex Leggett from eating at HoCo.
“The thought has made me inclined to eat at HoCo less, however, the price we pay for the meal plan and the convenience of prepared food is why I still eat there,” Leggett said.
“When I first saw the mouse, I was kind of surprised because I haven’t seen any animals in the dining halls in my previous years,” he added. “It concerns me at the sanitation of what happened behind the scenes.”
Leggett said that in order to make him feel better about the situation, the dining hall has to “earn his trust back” by proving it will never happen again.