Quad squirrels inspire cult campus following


Photo courtesy of Hunter Jensen

Annabelle Blomeley, Staff Reporter

Hundreds of UA students connect through mutual love for the campus squirrels, who are always there to brighten up the students’ day.

At this very moment, they’re likely stealing stale sandwich bread off the ground at Fresh Foods, rummaging through the trash cans at the Ferguson Center and jumping in front of students walking on the Quad. Everyone on campus knows and loves a story about the Quad squirrels, but for some students, the squirrels represent much more.

Gemia Williams, a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering, created the Squirrels of UA group chat last September while she was studying in Rodgers Library with a friend. The group chat, which now has over 350 members, has hundreds of photos of squirrels, dozens of videos and several pictures of squirrels photoshopped onto various backgrounds.

“I think that our squirrels are crazy in the best way,” Williams said. “I think that everyone just connects with squirrels on campus in a different way. Someone will send in a picture of a dead squirrel, and everyone will be like, ‘F in the chat for this little soldier.’”

After advertising on several other group chats, Williams said the Squirrels of UA chat gained over 200 people in just the first hour. Mary Smith, a freshman majoring in history, said the group chat has brought her and her friends closer together.

“I have such a close bond with all of these people now,” Smith said. “In this group chat, since we’ve converted from the GroupMe to actual Snapchat, I was able to meet a bunch of my friends now who are actually in my classes, so I’m able to study with them and exchange notes and just get to know everybody. My sisters in my sorority are in the group chat, so it’s really nice to have something else to talk about with each other besides just normal, everyday stuff. Also, there are squirrels. Who doesn’t love squirrels?”

The photos sent in the group chat show the true diversity of the campus squirrels, from squirrels sitting with students and eating Cheerios, to a chunky squirrel oddly eating apples like a human, to others standing on their hind legs and staring straight into the camera.

Hunter Jensen, a freshman majoring in political science, said he loves how everyone in the Squirrels of UA group chat understands how unique the campus squirrels are.

“I was out sitting outside of Fresh Foods the other day, and this squirrel just came up to me, sat next to me, and we were just eating together,” Jensen said.  “It was an experience that only the UA squirrels group chat would get.”

One squirrel-lover in the group chat sent a photo of a drawing she did of one of the campus squirrels. In the drawing, a squirrel is portrayed as a saint with a halo around its head and its arms brought up in prayer in an art style that reminisces Early Christian paintings.

“You’ll see people on the Quad just stopped and zooming in on squirrels, and then the next thing you know, that picture is sent in,” Jensen said. 

Another member of the group chat sent in a photo of a squirrel posing like a fashion model, which prompted one user to photoshop the squirrel onto a Vogue magazine cover.

“Honestly, if I’m having a bad day, I can always look for a cute squirrel,” Smith said. “When I’m in class, I don’t have to go to the Quad to see a squirrel, I can just open the group chat.”

David Gray, a freshman majoring in business, joined the group chat this January and immediately posted the squirrel photography that he took with his camera on the Quad. Gray said sometimes it’s tough taking action shots that are worthy of the group chat members’ eyes.

“Sometimes you have to sit for an hour up on the Quad just to get one picture that’s good because that’s all you get that day,” Gray said. “It’s definitely a wait sometimes, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes they come through and they grab a nut and they eat it and you’ve got your photo.”

Gray’s photos are mostly of squirrels in their natural space, scurrying up trees or sitting on branches overlooking the Quad. 

“Every picture of a squirrel makes me happy, so just waking up every morning, just seeing squirrels’ faces on my phone is probably just the best [part of] every day,” Gray said.