Faculty and students discuss possibility of squirrels in Waller Hall

Maddie Davis, Asst. News Editor

Squirrel-related noises and incidents have been reported this past year in Wilkes University’s Waller Hall.

Waller Hall is a co-ed, freshman honors dorm on campus that holds 20 students and is divided by the North and South side; the North side for the boys and South for the girls.

The newer accounts of squirrels in Waller come from this past fall and winter season. There were reported accounts of hearing running and scratching along the third floor attic-based rooms and the ceiling of the second floor on the North side. As it got worse, students notified campus’ facilities.

Facilities referred to the reported squirrels as “tree rats” and stated these animals are desperate to get into a warm building because of the cold winter. Facilities told students that they had chewed the siding of the building off, which was the entry point.

From there, facilities had reportedly caught the trespassing squirrels and put up different precautions to keep further intruders away from the Honors Hall. After the maintenance, some students still say they hear faint noises but others argue the problem is fixed.

As of now, there are no reports this year from the girls’ side of Waller hall, but former resident and sophomore entrepreneurship and hospitality major, Victoria Morrison, reflected on her experiences at Waller Hall from last academic year.

Morrison spoke on the many accounts that her and her fellow residents experienced in the newly renovated Waller Hall. She said there were all types of animals, from wasps to raccoons to mice.

“It was like a zoo when we were in there,” said Morrison.

“They were running underneath my floor,” said Morrison, “it was all fun and games [with the animals] until I heard a squeak,” said Morrison.

Morrison and fellow residents supposedly told facilities, but they didn’t do anything according to Morrison.

Morrison even expressed her concern for future students because of the dangerous health risks that could come from river rats entering the hall from the nearby Susquehanna River.

“This is disgusting,” added Morrison.

Gabrielle D’Amico, Director of Communications, spoke on behalf of facilities on the squirrel situation and denied claims of squirrels.

“A call was placed to facilities in December, but the sounds were found to be coming from the exterior of the residence hall,” said D’Amico.

“Facilities continuously monitors and reacts to any possible issues in campus buildings, particularly in winter months when squirrels look for a warm place to take shelter,” said D’Amico. “If a squirrel finds its way inside, they will capture and release the animal off campus, and work to close up any possible entry points.”

The resident assistant of the Waller, sophomore and political science major Joshua Bradley, discussed the seriousness of the claims.

“We have a couple residents here who have reported hearing some things, but they haven’t

actually been able to find any squirrels or anything like that as of yet,” assured Bradley,.“I can tell you for sure that Resident’s Life and facilities have been working on this for a long time.”

Bradley went into detail about the different precautions Wilkes’ facilities has taken to keep out unwanted animals since the former mansions transformation into a resident hall, like sealing off of the chimney.

“They’re not really causing too much of a problem other than some scratching and things like that,” said Bradley. “I personally haven’t had any sort of problems or anything like that.”

“We’ve never had a squirrel or anything like that enter the building,” said Bradley.

Bradley once again assured that the claims and the problems aren’t serious as there are no diseases being spread from the potential invaders.

Dr. Michael Steele, Biology professor, added his own remarks about squirrels with his lab assistant Shealyn Marino. Steele has been recognized nationally for his research on squirrels as well as publishing four books on the topic.

Steele blamed the cold weather for the possible intrusion of squirrels and the need to drop their young for the winter.

“The best way to do it is live trap them, take them some place and then let them go,” said Steele

“If you remove one, there will probably be another one that moves in,” added Marino.