DUBUQUE — It can be surprising the first time a student sees a bat on campus. Although bats are not extremely common, they still can cause a stir among students.
“I have seen them in our resident homes around the campus; I have seen them in Keane Hall; and I have seen them in Hoffmann, particularly the auditorium,” said Michael “Mick” Urbain, security officer, “but no more than usual.”
In Hoffmann, Urbain described how he saw a bat twice this semester in the first-floor hallway that connects the outside doors to the auditorium. There have also been sightings of bats in the auditorium, during both a practice and a performance of the faculty/staff play that was performed last month.
If a bat is found in the residence halls, students should not look to take care of it on their own.
“They would call Campus Safety or maintenance,” said Jina Quade, assistant director of residence life. “We also work with the Health Center. Anytime there is a bat sighting in the hall, or if a student wakes up and there’s a bat in their room, we want the student to go to the Health Center just to make sure that the bat has not bitten them or anything like that.”
“You should let us know because we would refer you to a doctor,” said Tammi Marti, director of health and wellness. “You never know whether you have a bat bite or not. In Iowa, skunks and bats are the most commonly found to be rabid. The risk of rabies is enough that contact with a bat should be dealt with in a serious manner.”
For Urbain, this was a real-life scenario. According to Urbain, in 2009, as he was letting two RAs into the front entrance of Keane at about 2 a.m. He flashed his card onto the card reader, which had a bat on it. The bat got startled, bit Urbain in the arm, drew blood and got away. Urbain later went to the hospital and received rabies shots as a result of it.
Urbain also notes that Loras has taken some action in regards to the bats.
“What Loras has tried to do is to try to at least educate, particularly our faculty, on the classrooms that need the windows closed when they’re through with their classes,” said Urbain. “Faculty will leave the windows open, which means it’s going to be several hours before security will get there in the evenings to shut those windows. These windows without screens is often how bats get in.”
This is the same way that bats can enter residence halls.
“We remind students to make sure that their screens are secure, that there’s not a hole in their window screen or something like that, because bats could easily get in that way,” said Quade. “If a student has an issue with their screen, they need to report that.”