Newsflash: The Student Press Loves Crazy Squirrel Stories

The most reliably entertaining set of stories within collegemediatopia are those involving squirrels.  According to student newspapers nationwide, the creatures regularly attack students.  They steal food.  They act cute.  They die, but never quietly.  And they chew up more column inches than you would think.

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The latest squirrelly student press account, which came my way via a tip, appeared last week in The Pendulum at Elon University.  It somehow combines a dramatic squirrel death scene, a plug for the Eastern gray squirrel’s Latin name (Sciurus carolinensis), and a few descriptions of the critters that make them sound like Russian spies (they engage in “covert nest-building activity” and “use their chisel-like teeth to enlarge cracks and holes”).

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The lede of the well-written, slyly witty piece by Katherine Blunt about a campus squirrel influx: “The squirrel drowned in the toilet.  Near the end of winter break, Elon University sophomore Jessica Edwards received a text from her RA informing her of the situation.  Her suitemate had entered their shared bathroom in Virginia residence hall upon returning to campus and found a sodden clump of gray fur floating lifelessly in the shallow water.”

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In honor of the Pendulum piece, here are 10 other classic squirrel reports, commentaries, and comics appearing in recent years within college media.

The Concordiensis, Union College

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“For those who haven’t noticed in the past few weeks, there have been a lot of squirrels on campus.  They hide in garbage cans, steal your lunch and jump carelessly out of trees.  What could possibly be wrong with these crazy squirrels?

Onward State, Penn State University

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She is a freshman this year, from State College, who is best known for playing with squirrels, while also donning them with tiny-squirrel sized hats. Mary has a love for all animals, however she favors squirrels above all other campus wildlife because they are the friendliest (when they’re hungry).”

The Daily of the University of Washington

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Americans always criticize themselves for being overweight.  The average American male has about 20 extra pounds hugging his midsection.  Aside from the occasional athlete who has the much desired six-pack look, most Americans possess the entire keg.  But have we ever stopped and wondered if America’s wildlife has the same problem?  Particularly, the squirrels right here on the UW campus?”

Central Florida Future, Univ. of Central Florida

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Tiffany Morley was minding her own business when the tiny animal attacked. One day last spring, the UCF junior was sitting on the patio behind the Student Union.  She was reading and enjoying a slice of banana bread when a squirrel jumped onto the book in front of her.  Morley instinctively reached for the bread that was sitting next to the book in an effort to keep the squirrel from running off with it, but the squirrel would not be so easily deterred.  It jumped toward the bread with mouth wide open and sharp teeth shining, biting Morley’s pinky instead of the tasty target.”

The Sophian, Smith College

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“There’s a problem on Smith campus.  The problem is small, gray, twitchy, irritable, and-well, crazy.  The problem is our squirrels, or ROUS: Rodents of Unusual Sanities. . . . Take a look around.  These ROUS are all over campus.  They’re in the trees, in the grass, on the house porches, under the porches, sneaking around the buildings, crossing the street (always haphazardly, never at the crosswalk), clinging to window screens, and scaling the ivy when things get dull.  Just the other day I overheard a Smithie say to her friend, ‘I’ve seen squirrels before, but not like this.  I’ve never seen so many in one place.‘”

The Michigan Daily, University of Michigan

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“‘Next time you’re out in a rain storm, watch the squirrels,’ said [a UM professor], whose research focus is in small mammals. “Watch how they use their tails; they use it as an umbrella. They are able to be active almost irrespective of the weather.’  The strange behavior of squirrels in Ann Arbor has become a source of fascination for both students and visitors to the city. And according to [the professor] and squirrel enthusiasts at the university, their chubby looks and friendly demeanor are largely due to the increased human interaction they experience around campus.”

The Oracle, University of South Florida

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“A story from the Gainesville Sun that was picked up by a number of papers across Florida last week depicted a menace that seems to be sweeping across college campuses: squirrels.  Crazy squirrels on college campuses have been a popular punch line among students for years, but according to the Gainesville Sun the squirrels at the University of Florida have gotten out of hand.  The article detailed several eyewitness accounts of squirrel-on-human violence.”

Scarlet & Black, Grinnell College

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“While strolling down Park Street, numerous people have been viciously assailed by rapidly falling, near-lethal acorns. Most look up, expecting to a see a rabid squirrel with blood-shot eyes malevolently guffawing at them. Yet mysteriously, all they see are mere gobs of leaves, innocently swaying in the crisp, nippy breeze. Where the f**k are the squirrels that once held such a prominent and entertaining– if mildly threatening– presence on our campus?

The Collegian, Bob Jones University

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The Mercury, University of Texas at Dallas

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