Squirrels drive me nuts

One of UCMs many squirrels looks over the quad Tuesday, Oct. 20 while students head to and from class.

PHOTO BY BRANDON BOWMAN / PHOTO EDITOR One of UCM’s many squirrels looks over the quad Tuesday, Oct. 20 while students head to and from class.

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Assistant News Editor
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — Let’s talk about the squirrels on this campus for a minute.

PHOTO BY BRANDON BOWMAN / PHOTO EDITOR One of UCM's many squirrels looks over the quad Tuesday, Oct. 20 while students head to and from class.
One of UCM’s many squirrels looks over the quad Tuesday, Oct. 20 while students head to and from class.

They’re furry, plump and abundant. They even gained mascot status on our campus for one day last semester. On April Fools’ Day, the university announced we were now the UCM Fighting Squirrels.
The joke came from ongoing dialogue about how many squirrels roam the campus.
When I first came to UCM, I was truly shocked by the amount of furry “friends” I saw running around. The squirrels where I’m from are much less likely to come so close to people, probably for fear of getting shot with a pellet gun or whatever gun people use to shoot squirrels.
I’ll come right out and say it – I hate squirrels. They’re nasty and rodent-like, and they freak me out. So, it took a while to get used to them being so close to me.
As I walk across campus, I’m constantly on guard for the little monsters. Just this week, two have crossed my path on the Quad. They just sit there with their beady, menacing eyes and stare at me. People probably think I’m crazy because I will literally yell at them, out loud.
“Go away, squirrel!” or “Leave me alone you furry monster, shoo, shoo!” are common phrases that I yell at the squirrels. People look at me with genuine concern sometimes because of these outbursts.
Since I have an incredible aversion to the creatures, I decided to do a “highly scientific” study on UCM students’ opinions of the squirrels on campus.
For my “research” I asked six students what they thought about the squirrels on campus and if they had any squirrel stories. These students did not disappoint.
The general consensus between all of the people I talked to is that the squirrels are strangely bold.
Some students, like Alante Jones, freshman nursing major, flee from them.
“They get too close, I run,” Jones said.
Salma Abouelhana, freshman nursing major, said she also feels the squirrels’ proximity to people is out of control.
“They get too damn close to humans on this campus,” Abouelhana said. “It is unacceptable.”
She even went on to say that the squirrels are not normal and that if one ever got too close to her, she would kick it.
Other students said the excessive squirrel population concerns them.
Nyemah Etienne, freshman social work major, said the squirrels on campus are excessive. She said she was walking down the street one time when a squirrel stopped right in front of her and stared at her.
“Another time I was walking, and a squirrel climbed into a tree, and it was making the loudest noise and staring me down,” she said.
Etienne said the squirrels are terrifying, bold and fat, in her opinion.
“But you know, let the squirrels do their squirrel thing because they’re kind of nuts – bah dum chhh,” Etienne said.
Jeromie Williams, freshman digital media production major, agreed that there are a lot of squirrels on campus, but he said he likes them.
“I think they’re amazing,” Williams said. “Most animals where I’m from run because they’re scared of humans, but these squirrels aren’t.”
Even more than the average students, smokers on campus have several squirrely run-ins.
Cody Archer, sophomore psychology major, said a squirrel lives in one of the trees above a bench across from the James C. Kirkpatrick Library. He said the squirrel throws nuts at people on purpose.
“Like he’s intentionally doing it,” Archer said. “It’s legit one squirrel. He has a monopoly over that whole tree.”
Archer himself has never been hit, but said the squirrel threw a nut and hit the ground right beside him.
However crazy the squirrel situation is on campus, Archer said the squirrels at Kansas State University are worse. Archer’s friends have told him the squirrels started forming gangs.
“On K-State, they have signs that say the squirrels have started gangs,” Archer said. “They’ll literally go up to people and steal something and then beg for food. When they get the food they’ll give that thing back.”
One time at K-State, a squirrel approached Archer’s friend and snatched his pack of cigarettes he had left on the ground. The squirrel would not return the cigarettes until he was offered a piece of his friend’s sandwich. Archer said this form of exploitation is not uncommon in K-State squirrels.
Perhaps squirrels on our campus have communicated with their Kansas State friends, because Tally Morris, junior social work major, described a similar experience.
“My friends and I, they were standing outside smoking, and one just came up to me and stood right next to me,” Morris said. “It just stood there and wasn’t scared of me at all. I’m not sure if it wanted the cigarettes or what.”
Apparently, though, the squirrels at UCM have varying personalities. Marshall Vaughn, freshman digital media production major, told me he likes the squirrels and thinks they’re funny. One day he almost hit a baby squirrel while he was biking to class.
“It was a really small one, about the size of an iPhone 6, by Grinstead, and I pet it,” Vaughn said. “It just sat there.”
He didn’t try to pick it up though, for fear that it might bite him.
So overall, the girls I spoke to did not like the squirrels but the guys did. They all agreed that the amount of squirrels and their boldness was unexpected.
Despite Archer’s experience with the nut-throwing squirrel, he said he still thinks they’re good and add an aesthetic pleasure to the campus.
As for me, I stick to my previous statement. I hate squirrels.
The squirrels here at UCM are just nutty.