Beset by three separate squirrel related incidents since winter break, Helmreich House members have found an unlikely hero in Julianna Burke ’18. 

Nickie Mitch ’18, Chris Brown ’18 and Luke Cleary ’18, have each found squirrels in their rooms this semester. These creatures, which are a little bit furrier than other squirrels seen around campus, have been deemed flying squirrels by house residents after some “sleuthing via Google Images,” according to Burke.

In fact, the actual appearance of the flying squirrels has been a long time coming. Since the beginning of the year, house members have been hearing noises in the walls, especially on the third floor of Helm. The emergence of the squirrels finally proves that Helm members were not simply overtaken by paranoia and group-think. 

For this reason, Burke says, “Seeing the squirrels this semester was weirdly validating.”
Interestingly enough, though, two of the three squirrels have been found in the basement. Cleary found a squirrel in his lower-level room after only having heard noises in the walls once during all of first semester. The acting theory from members of the house is that as the weather has gotten colder, the squirrels have both moved down in the house and have been keener to sneak inside in search of warmth. This development has not thrilled every member of the house. 

Cleary, in describing his encounter with the squirrel in his room, explains, “I got back to my room and turned the light on and I look on my bedside table and I saw a squirrel looking right back at me… I got kind of freaked out.” 

Burke tells a similar story about Cleary’s encounter with the squirrel. “One night I was just in my room reading at 10:30 p.m. or 11:00 p.m. when I heard this bloodcurdling scream. I ran downstairs and there was Luke Cleary [and the squirrel]... The squirrel had by that point moved to his bookshelf but it was really scared and really cute and it wasn’t moving. So I just got a Tupperware from the kitchen and scooped it up and brought it outside.”

Burke is a big fan of the squirrels, describing them multiple times as “really cute.” She has thus been able to come to the aid of house members like Cleary (with the help of some Tupperware, of course). Burke was also able to catch the squirrel in Brown’s room with the same Tupperware, which has now been reserved for squirrel catching. 

Despite her enthusiasm about the squirrels, Burke readily admits, “It’s kind of a thrill to see them in someone else’s room, but if I was in my bed and there was a squirrel I might be a little more rattled… Some people seem to be a little spooked.”

Although Burke’s efforts have certainly been heroic, the Tupperware may be able to be retired, at least for the time being. 

“An exterminator came last Wednesday, and Residential Life offices have emailed me and a couple other residents in the house to make sure the issue has been taken care of,” House Proctor Lillian Eckstein ’18 said. “We’ve also called security a couple times... I don’t really hear them running around anymore, so maybe they’re there, maybe they aren’t.”

Nevertheless, squirrels in Helm do not seem to be a new issue and may very well be back with a vengeance despite the have-a-heart traps that the exterminator used to deal with the problem. Helm house alumni Olivia Atwood ’17 and Brooke Goddard ’17 heard or saw squirrels during their sophomore year in the house. 

While some house members were originally freaked out by the issue, Eckstein believes the squirrels are actually a good advertising opportunity for Helm, and said that house members have been batting around the idea of hosting a “squirrel party” as their next campus-wide event. 

Whether the squirrels are funny or freaky is up for debate, but for all of those first years out there considering applying to Helmreich House, be ready for a furry roommate.