Editorial: #SaveOurSquirrel

Illustration by Ellie Allen

Herald Editorial Staff

The white squirrel phenomenon has long perplexed visitors and residents in Bowling Green.

We’ve all heard the grand conspiracies about the critters: weird chemistry and physics experiments, a mishap in a massive art project andthe favorite of these explanationsgenetic modification on gray squirrels, resulting in white fur.

But the fact is there isn’t a clear-cut explanation for the white squirrel.

White squirrels have been around for decades, and their legacy has spawned merchandise, mascots and an aptly named brewery. They’re not albino. They’re not a product of strange science. They’re just a small glitch in the matrix that WKU has adopted as a proud mascot for the town.

And now the white squirrel seems to be on the way out.

In an effort to increase brand consistency, the university is working to remove white squirrel imagery from areas around campus. Big Red and Red Towel merchandise and logos will continue to be the primary images of the WKU brand.

Those images have tradition on their side, and there is no doubt that Big Red is an icon to many students and alumni. But the white squirrel provides something different, something arguably important to the university: it celebrates the odd and virtually unexplainable.

Brandenburg sophomore Taylor Cucino remembers hearing about white squirrels from a tour guide during her first visit to WKU.

“It gave the university a quirk, and it stood out to me,” Cucino said.

White squirrels are likely the product of some adaptive abnormality in the squirrels’ history that somehow stood the test of time.

There is some kind of pride in the fact that we have these creatures roaming campus, striking attention and evoking a bit of shock from people. There is something to be said for a community or university that embraces its random quirks so proudly that it turns them into a marketing device.

The white squirrel is used as a branding technique by the WKU Office of Sustainability, White Squirrel Weather, the WKU Bookstore and the WKU English Department. Let that brand be unique to them!

White squirrels can be part of the WKU brand without necessarily taking away from the traditional images it has used. The white squirrel could represent something from a new eraan era that demands we take pride in the strange and somewhat difficult to understand. Let it be an object of intrigue! Let it be a conversation starter about how WKU stands apart from other universities. Let the brand include the weird that students know and love.