By Christian Loeffler
Students have been curious why the sixth floor of Wimmer Hall is currently off-limits and is planned to remain vacant for the duration of the 2019-2020 academic year. While students reported rumors that the closure was possibly due to lower attendance records, renovations, or the presence of bats, Bob Baum, dean of students, stated that it is actually "due to the number of female residents who registered during housing selection last spring."
Baum did confirm, however, the presence of bats on the sixth-floor last year, but stated they are not present anymore. Former sixth-floor residents Samantha Belvins and Kate Bell shared their experiences with Wimmer bats.
According to Belvins, having bats show up "became very normal, but in a weird way."
Bell stated that she saw bats on three different occasions, with two encounters during the 2018 fall semester and one experience during the end of the 2019 spring semester.
"We kind of called the bats our mascot," Bell said. "Some of the girls on the floor were scared by them, but we thought the were cute."
Both students recounted different run-ins with the bats.
"There was a pipe that ran along our doors," Belvins explained, referring to the pipes along the ceiling of most of Wimmer residence hallways. "[One of the bats] perched itself above a girl's door and when she opened it, it fell onto her head."
Bell said she caught a bat.
"I had one of the mesh laundry nets," Bell said, "and I grabbed [the bat] and we chased it around the hall. We trapped it in the lounge and I caught it in the little laundry net, and then we shook it out the window."
While Belvins was more apprehensive than Bell about living among the bats, both students argued that the creatures were not disruptive by nature and caused no damage.
Bell stated that when the bats got disturbed, they would fly down the hallway trying to find a way out, which alarmed people. However, she said, they never flew low enough to actually hit anyone.
"In terms of noise, the only time one [made any] was when I got it with the net and I actually touched it," Bell explained.
Belvins explained that if any damage was caused, it was from people "trying to catch it, but not the bat itself."
In response to the events concerning the bats, Baum said that the college's rural surroundings dictate that there will always be insects, bats, and other animals around.
"Any time there is an issue such as a report of a bat in a building, Facilities Management is quick to respond, removing the pest and checking the area to help avoid any recurrence," Baum stated.
When asked whether the sixth floor will be available next year, Baum stated that each year is different, based on what halls and floor students prefer. Baum offered a potential positive outcome of the closure of Wimmer Hall's sixth floor.
"This opportunity may allow us to move forward with some renovations and/or upgrades to the floor," he stated.