Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Animal Invasion!

Robert Ross

(Dan Chudzinski)

When President David Hodge decided to take the reins here at Miami University, he knew he would face some challenges. In his first semester he has tried to tackle all of the biggies: grade inflation, diversity, campus crime, rising tuition, vacant dean positions, student apathy and the uncertain future of the Western College Program.

However, there is an enormous problem here at Miami that President Hodge, like President Garland before him, has failed to address: animal infestation.

That's right, animal infestation. It is a problem that is not unique to Miami. In fact, across the country, critters of all shapes and sizes have been creeping and crawling throughout college campuses.

At Miami, the problem hit close to home last week. Sitting in The Miami Student office, deep in the heart of campus, I was informed by our building's custodian that animals had infiltrated the west wing of the building.

Shocked and alarmed, I overcame my urge to run to the nearest fire exit, collected my thoughts, and considered investigating the situation.

Just under a year ago I was faced with an eerily similar situation.

"These damn animals don't know when to stop," I thought to myself.

Last November a "medium-sized" white tailed deer, as described by Miami University Police Chief John McCandless, violently crashed through a window of Upham Hall.

The delirious doe, most likely spooked by its own reflection, leapt into an empty classroom, and luckily no one was hurt. Fatally injured from the collision, the deer was eventually put down, and order was restored.

I drew the short straw and was assigned to cover the story for The Student. Now, less than a year removed from Deer Invasion '05, the animals were back in full force. Sources familiar with the situation revealed late last week that three raccoons, aided by the cover of darkness, managed to crawl into the building through a vent on the roof and wreak havoc on the unsuspecting tenants of MacMillan Hall.

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These furry monsters cleverly utilized the building's air vents to travel throughout the building at their leisure. Sneakily scurrying above ceiling tiles, the trio of masked menaces set up camp between the first and second floor of the building

Though these crafty creatures were never spotted, they were often heard creeping about. Dan Staniforth of the international studies program later described the incident.

"I heard a large animal padding around up there," said Stanforth whose office is in 120 MacMillan Hall. "It sounded like he was chewing on the light fixtures."

"They were scratching around the air vents," said Rene McKinstry who works in the same office as Staniforth. "It sounded like a much larger animal then a squirrel."

Bigger then a squirrel indeed. Raccoons can weigh as much as 35 pounds. Can you imagine 35 pounds of wild animal fury clawing at your face?

At one point, both McKinstry and Staniforth were temporarily forced to leave their office for fear of an unwanted full-scale raccoon invasion.

"We didn't know if the ceiling would fall through," McKinstry said.

Staniforth was equally concerned. "You do not want a raccoon falling on your head," he said.

Eventually, the evil varmints got greedy and were trapped by animal control. Fortunately, the raccoons were safely removed from the building before any real damage could be done.

As I alluded to earlier, animal infestations are not unique to Miami. As first reported in the Sept. 7, 2005 edition of The Daily Egyptian, the student newspaper of Southern Illinois University, a snake slithered its way into the university chancellor's car.

According to the article, mechanics removed a dead snake from the engine of Chancellor Walter Wendler's university-issued Crown Victoria. The report further explains that the deceased reptile created a raunchy stench within the vehicle, which eventually required two days of deodorizing.

"It looked like a nasty blob of black goo. It was so nasty," Denny Moon, the mechanic who first located the snake, told The Daily Egyptian in 2005.

Officials speculated that the sly serpent likely crawled under the vehicle's radiator to seek refuge from the parking lot's hot asphalt.

These stories of animal infestation should encourage college students nationwide to be on the lookout for dangerous animals lurking in the shadows. Here at Miami, in the last year we have weathered the storm through two animal attacks, but who knows what the future may hold.

In this post-deer-raccoon-snake world we live in, one can not be too careful.