by Amber Cox
Squirrels roam freely all over Rider’s campuses, but recently they have taken over one residence hall.
Two squirrels were recently caught in the attic of University House, where the brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon (SPE) and Alpha Epsilon Pi live. But there have been a number of other “squirrel sightings.”
Michael Maconi, director of facilities management, was given a memo Wednesday, Nov. 12, about squirrels in University House; he was out of the office until Monday, so he was unaware of the problem until this week.
In the meantime, a trap was set in the attic to catch any squirrels running around. There was a hole in the area of the attic called the fascia, where the roof meets the side of the building, allowing the squirrels to get in.
“We fixed the hole in the fascia last Wednesday,” Maconi said. “The main repair checked all of the screens to make sure they were secure.”
The brothers of SPE who have been impacted by the squirrels have been left with no choice but to ignore fire safety rules by blocking the slits under their doors to prevent the squirrels from getting in.
“When I was sleeping, the squirrel came into my room and went onto one of the chairs in my room, and then knocked over a book, which woke me up,” junior Dan Brown said. “I sat up [in] my bed and the squirrel left. This happened three times in the span of 10 minutes. I then decided, since my one screen is out of my window because I have an air conditioner, that I would open the screen up and prop it against my door. I heard the squirrel run into the screen on four separate occasions.”
Students were told by Residence Life that any damage caused would not be covered under their families’ insurance and that they would all have to pay more money to have those items covered.
“When I went to a few university officials, they said that if I wanted any coverage of my items that my homeowner’s insurance would not cover, I needed to buy extra insurance for over $250 a year,” said senior Jared Wood. “So I can either risk getting fined for stuffing things under my door to protect me or pay for extra insurance. At this point, I’ll just shove things under my door.”
Brian Moy, also a senior, is calling the insurance that would cover any extra damage “squirrel insurance” to make light of the matter.
The squirrels are not only making the students take extra precautions with possessions, but they also have to hide food so the squirrels don’t find it.
“They have come into some rooms multiple times, stealing food, just looking for a way out of the building, and have actually climbed on people’s things, such as laptops,” said junior Karl Craft.
Some students have even had the squirrels climb into their beds, while they were still in them.
“I woke up to a noise of something on my desk,” said senior Dan Ziegler. “[It was a squirrel.] It did not notice me noticing it and continued to move towards my bed next to the window. The thing actually jumped into bed with me and sat at my feet on a pillow. I didn’t know what to do, so I just yelled ‘squirrel!’ It ran away and left me with a good story.”
Senior Pat Gaston has experienced squirrels in his bed on two separate occasions.
“No one really knows how it got in [the first time], it was just kind of there,” he said. “The second time I was sleeping when I felt something against my leg and I moved a bit. It jumped down and started moving around by my blinds before we finally got it out. It left by pushing one of the screens out.”
Some of the students wouldn’t be so upset if they weren’t causing so many difficulties.
“I wouldn’t have a problem with them if they didn’t steal our food and wake me up,” said senior Brandon Copeland.
The Facilities Department is continuing to work on the problem.
“They checked the attic [Tuesday],” Maconi said.