Trash can squirrel is a sign of things to come
October 5, 2016
I remember walking back from the University Center my freshman year and seeing a squirrel eating a corn dog. Back then I thought it was adorable and immediately uploaded it to my snapchat story, but looking back on it I should have been disgusted.
Everywhere you look on campus is squirrels. They are so acclimatized to us that you can get mere inches of one, nearly touching it. Word of mouth is that a fine can be earned by chasing after the squirrels. They are majestic animals who just so happen to inhabit the campus, yet we treat them like house cats.
It is not rare to see these animals munching on food from the Commons, or being offered foods by freshmen. They watch with eager eyes during events for the mere sign of junk food to come their way. Buffalo Wild Wings, Chartwells, Pete’s Creek, and C-Store delights have replaced their normal diets of nuts. Outside of Grimm Hall lives a squirrel who constantly winds his way in and out of the trash can.
I know I’m not the only one who has seen them. I often turn on snapchat only to see their furry faces and beady eyes peering back at me, hunched over tacos and Cheetos.
While freshman worry about the freshman fifteen, squirrels have to worry about maintaining the college squirrel lifestyle. A college squirrel is a squirrel who does not dodge others and grows a belly fat with the leftovers of disappointed seniors. While students complain of Chartwells and its quality, a college squirrel reveres the catering company that is kind enough to provide so many dry muffins and stale corndogs. Squirrels are too opportunistic to have standards as high as college students, any food is good food to them.
Squirrels shouldn’t be like this, however. Squirrels should be wild animals and distance themselves from the campus. It appears, however, that the squirrels have borderline reserved their own dorm rooms for next year. Soon we shall see them running through the halls of KFA with their boldness and comfort within the campus. They already stick close to the walls of the buildings, taking advantage of the warmth. Is it such a stretch to say I can see them running through the UC by next year, enjoying the new bean bag and hammock chairs far more than most students?
The campus does nothing to discourage their comfort, however. Offering a fine for chasing the squirrels only communicates to these animals that this is a safe space for them. It’s not however, every day they are on campus they are pumped full of more fats and fibers that their tiny squirrel stomachs can’t hope to process. Yet the school board refuses to come up with a way to help us save these creatures from ourselves and their own desperate ways. A fine can be implemented, the Commons can monitor food removal more regularly, or a friendly senior can shake their finger at the misbehaving freshman.
But if the college would like to retain their squirrels, I suggest they start charging them tuition.
Natalie Howell is an alumna of UW-River Falls. She was editor of the <em>Student Voice</em> during the 2016-2017 academic year.