We can learn a lot from the bold squirrels on campus


Brian Bauer

A squirrel gathers leaves near the Undergraduate Library on Feb. 10.

By Ellen Barczak, Columnist

Autumn seems to finally be upon us. Fall proves a quite popular season; so many hold a special place in their hearts for sweaters, colorful leaves, apples and pumpkin spice anything. Look no further than our own October Lovers club for proof of our collective obsession with cooler weather and all the changes associated with it.

Another aspect of fall that seems to be quite overlooked, and frankly, underrated, is the behavior of animals. In particular, squirrels. As colder weather approaches, and with that a lack of readily available sustenance, these critters enter a veritable food-storing frenzy.

Anyone who has stepped foot on the Main Quad before will tell you that the squirrels on campus are, in a word, abundant. These rodents, however, were not always part of the University experience. It was not until 1901 that University President Andrew S. Draper decided to enhance the school’s squirrel population by “(securing) a few… that have been bred in the city and are not afraid of people.”

After 116 years, current students find themselves in the presence of these friendly squirrels’ descendants.

However, where some would describe the squirrels at the University as friendly, others would tell you they are “crazy” or “out of control.” While I personally enjoy the presence of these frisky and feisty creatures, some find themselves irritated or bothered by them.

I’ve always found it quite comical when people feel intimidated by these animals; they weigh around one pound each and pose no real threat to any human. And, honestly, squirrels are hilarious. On the IKE Quad one day, I saw a squirrel look side to side, then dive into a manhole through the grate. (Sidebar: Might we have a breed of teenage mutant ninja squirrels on campus? Report any further sightings to [email protected]. Discretion is guaranteed.)

The thing is, though, squirrels don’t care that they’re small and we’re big. They don’t care that we could probably just kick them out of the way if we wanted to. They truly could not care less that, scientifically speaking, they should feel threatened by us.

I find it quite unfortunate when squirrels are characterized as maniacal and irrational, when they simply go about their squirrel business and live their best squirrel lives.

So, you could choose to be annoyed by these courageous little creatures, or you could choose to be inspired by them.

In your own life, you could choose to be the squirrel. You could defy what seems logical and challenge those who intimidate you. 

Be a squirrel: Take what you believe is yours, what you believe will help you realize your best self, with no regard to the opinions of others. Be audacious, be bold, be courageous, be fearless. If a squirrel can do that, why can’t you?

Ellen is a freshman in LAS. 

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