White-tailed squirrel’s passing creates campus culture
The University lost its most prominent unofficial mascot last Monday: the white-tailed squirrel. Yet the squirrel’s passing provided a rare moment for UH students to come together and make something of it.
The white-tailed squirrel was a near-mythic animal introduced to new students who toured the campus with orientation team leaders.
The day the squirrel died, several students left small tokens of appreciation for the animal. There were a few handwritten notes near its corpse and even an unlit cigarette that honored the memory of the special rodent.
The next day, the squirrel’s body was moved to a freezer with the intent of handing it to a taxidermist with a little help from a fundraiser led by former VoteForMeme presidential candidate Robert Comer and an “anonymous UH student” who likes to ball out.
Meanwhile, the monument grew. A trifold board, a framed picture of the squirrel and a prayer candle were added to the memorial, complemented with empty alcohol containers as if someone had poured one out for our little, white-tailed homie.
As ridiculous as it may sound, students coming together to leave random objects as tribute to the squirrel created publicity for the University that, in turn, created campus culture. Students were all able to participate in something that was unique to our campus.
Furthermore, the squirrel’s passing managed to find its way to news stations which, in turn, covered the event. This generated media reach of the University to viewers that would have not otherwise seen or heard about the squirrel’s passing and may have prompted them to ask a UH student that they knew about the topic.
Student commonalities allow them to build social bridges and relationships with people with whom they would have otherwise never interacted. The squirrel’s death gave every UH student something to talk about with their friends who went to other schools.
The monument continued to grow as the week progressed; students left notes about the squirrel around the site of its death.
UH is not deeply steeped in tradition like other, older Texas schools. UH’s status for most of its existence as a commuter school made developing traditions difficult. The passing of the white-tailed squirrel has served to help the University grow out of that commuter status.
While the legendary squirrel’s passing was a sad one, it helped to create a small piece of campus culture that, with the squirrel’s preservation, will be immortalized.
Opinion editor Thomas Dwyer is a broadcast journalism sophomore and can be reached at [email protected]