April 3, 2017
Old school: U-M in History
A 1918 souvenir card. (Photo courtesy of Wystan Stevens on Flickr)
The pudgy, curious and oftentimes fearless squirrels that roam the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan have delighted students, faculty, staff and visitors for decades. Nowadays, one can find the plump creatures scurrying across the grounds, comfortable among their human compatriots. Over the years, U-M's squirrels have found themselves to be the focal point of controversy as well as the inspiration for stories other works of art. The Common Council of 1894 passed an ordinance protecting the squirrels and birds of Ann Arbor from hunters and anyone else looking to hurt or kill them. Those who violated the ordinance would get a $25 fine and 30 days in jail. In 1914, speaker Anna Scryver discussed the possibility of Ann Arbor's squirrels carrying disease at a campus health lecture. Despite these challenges, the squirrels always resonated in U-M community members' hearts through the decades, as shown through an ode in a 1911 Michigan Union Opera titled "The Squirrels in the Trees." In the dramatic work, a character who finds failure in his love life discovers solace in the squirrels. Although U-M's squirrels might not be inspiring operas today on the 2017 campus, one still can find their lovable presence online in several Twitter accounts.
— Adapted from "Just Nuts" by Kim Clarke. To read more, go to heritage.umich.edu.