There are a few constants in my life as a student at the University of Michigan. Besides the uneventful constant stress from courses and walking the same paths to class every day, there happens to be one thing that makes walks to class enjoyable: campus squirrels. Fluffy and curious creatures, the squirrels never cease to be a comfort in my life . One Tuesday while entering Mason Hall to attend a dreaded class, I detected an abrupt movement in my right peripheral. I swiveled my head, and lo! A squirrel, dangling from the lip of a dumpster. I chuckled, and my day was instantly brightened. Seeing these critters every day, I grew more curious about their lives and sought to figure out what it truly means to be a University of Michigan squirrel.
I began with The Squirrel Club. Founded by Jason Colman (a.k.a., Duke of the Squirrel Club) and Justin Hyatt in 2002, the club began with few members but experienced a quick turnaround with more members joining in the following years. Indeed, two years after its conception The Squirrel Club became one of the largest student organizations on campus and now their ranks continue to grow.
Ultimately, The Squirrel Club fosters camaraderie formed from peoples’ shared interest in meeting new people, getting fresh air, and most importantly, seeing some cute animals.
To learn more about The Squirrel Club, I interviewed one of its three co-presidents: Molly Mearns, a member since her freshman year in 2016. The Squirrel Club is an organization dedicated to feeding the campus squirrels; overall, it is a great way to meet people and feed cute animals. It seems the furry rodents that reside on campus have a rather pleasant life. Members of The Squirrel Club are careful not to overfeed the squirrels, and administer “just a couple peanuts during meetings,” while some have “brought corn and other produce” to feed with, too.
How exactly are the squirrels fed? Well, members do not merely sprinkle fodder amongst them: “There is a special technique. It is actually more for safety than anything else.” Molly explained that to feed the squirrels you “hold the peanut between your thumb and pointer finger so that there is a big area for the squirrels to grab [the peanut].” The species of campus squirrels are unknown. Squirrel sightings are typically low during winter, as the “squirrels are often hiding away.” But, our fuzzy campus friends are seen in abundance during spring when they are most active. Ultimately, The Squirrel Club fosters camaraderie formed from peoples’ shared interest in meeting new people, getting fresh air, and most importantly, seeing some cute animals.
At the end of my mission to learn more about the life of the University of Michigan squirrel, I have realized something: We have much to learn from the kind exchange between our omnipresent fuzzy companions and The Squirrel Club.
After this exchange with Molly, I felt I knew a bit more about our unofficial campus mascot. It seems we have a lot to learn from these critters. Every day, they merely try to make their squirrelly ends meet, scampering around campus in search of food: That one dumpster-diving squirrel I saw on my way to Mason Hall was on a humble quest in search of food; while another munched on a tissue in a misguided search for food. However, amidst these squirrels’ dark and trying times, every Sunday at noon The Squirrel Club arrives with a helping hand, quite literally.
At the end of my mission to learn more about the life of the University of Michigan squirrel, I have realized something: We have much to learn from the kind exchange between our omnipresent fuzzy companions and The Squirrel Club. Whenever we or our colleagues are suffering through stressful times or bogged down by overwhelming college-related commitments, we should step in to lend a helping hand.