Thursday, October 18, 2007

Squirrel Evacuation

The class I’m a teaching assistant for is one of the biggest classes offered by the university: there were originally about 750 students enrolled, although after the first exam that number has dropped significantly. Today midway through class, some students in the front of the lecture hall started screaming in terror, and pretty soon the entire auditorium was filled with a pandemonium of shrieking students running for the door. It turns out that a squirrel—having somehow entered through the vents or rafters— had jumped down from the balcony onto the main level and was running loose through the auditorium.

For crying out loud.

It was just a squirrel!! Was all of that screaming and running really necessary? Have these people ever been outdoors before? Squirrels are everywhere!

At any rate, the professor retained her as cool as a cucumber persona and calmly asked the students to leave the auditorium while we tried to get the squirrel out.

It seemed like it wouldn’t be too difficult to usher the squirrel towards one of the many doorways leading outside, but it wasn’t proving to be easy. Plus there were still a bunch of students who stayed in the auditorium, chasing the squirrel around and trying to take pictures of it with their cell phones.

Now, the majority of my up close and personal squirrel experiences come from Lucy, the Nicaraguan squirrel who loved me for the cookies I gave her. But this was a fabled U of I Quad Squirrel, who was scared senseless and not nearly as sweet or tame as dear Lucy. Plus, squirrels are pretty fast. One minute it would be at the back of the auditorium, the next minute it would be up on the stage.

Today was a Thursday—so all of the students who are in the military always wear their uniforms. There were a couple of guys in military uniforms who took it upon themselves to organize the rest of us, formulate a plan, and finally get the squirrel outdoors. This one at least, was a military success. Mission accomplished.

Nonetheless, by this point, it had taken so long and been so distracting that any hope of continuing the lecture had been disbanded. As the professor and TA’s stood in the mainly deserted lecture hall, sort of shaking our heads at all of this, who else should appear in the doorway but good old S.L. and C.R. (another professor in the department). I guess one or both of them had been walking across the quad and seen this mass exodus of students pouring out of Foellinger Auditorium, so they came in to check and see what had happened. Luckily it was not as huge of a crisis as the screaming of the students would have indicated, and everyone ended up safe. Hopefully even the squirrel.

You just never know what’s going to happen! Thanks for reading.

4 comments:

foxymomma said...

TALK ABOUT BABYSITTING 750 STUDENTS!!! what a bunch of WIMPS!!!! So, GLAD the MILITARY stepped up to the plate , and FORMULATED a PLAN, which probably had NOTHING whatsoever to do with GETTING THE SQUIRREL out, but 'all's well , and as long as the muffins got done, ( inside joke!!!!) Wonder WHICH of the 700 plus students ' sneaked the squirrel in? One way to ' stop' all control of the class----My suggestion , is to give them one of the TUFFEST tests you can!!!! FLUNK em all!!!! At least it gave an exciting BLOG!!! Luv and hugs to you both***

Anonymous said...

......OH MY GOSH, MELISSA, I'M STILL LAUGHING AT YOUR STORY TELLING.
.......THE WHOLE TIME I'M READING, ALL I COULD THINK OF WAS CASSIE! THAT SQIRRELL WOULDN'T HAVE HAD A PRAYER IF SHE HAD BEEN THERE.
.......ANYWAY, IT MADE FOR A GREAT BLOG ENTRY!
......MOM SCHO

amypfan said...

This is RIDICULOUS. I have a hard time imaginging one student being horrified by a squirrel, much less 750 students. This wasn't, like, a rabid squirrel or anything, right? I guess they just don't make college students as tough as they used to, huh? Probably a safe statement, since I have observed that current high school students are not all that hardy either. I'm glad the military could be of use to someone though.

Anonymous said...

Love the squirrel story -- if you have any more problems, let me know and I'll bring Katie down to help -- she's very experienced!!
hugs, auntie