Students are used to seeing squirrels and rabbits scurrying throughout the Valley, but many were shocked to see that a groundhog has also taken up residence on campus.
While many appreciate groundhogs for their ability to see their own shadow, AU students have grown to appreciate the Valley’s newest resident on a deeper level.
According to Rachael Shaver, freshman flute performance major, the groundhog is well-known across campus.
“He’s kind of like the new mascot around campus,” she said. “I know he’s been given a few different names, but I’ve heard we’re calling him Doodlebug. That’s what my RA told me, and I think it just kind of stuck.”
Shaver explained that the creature likes to spend his time in the Valley watching students, and that he is not exactly a new face on campus.
“I first saw him the first week of classes,” she said. “I’ve been seeing him around ever since. It’s always nice to see him.”
Like Shaver, many students have formed emotional attachments to the fuzzy creature, so it’s no surprise that some students were saddened by a campus-wide email sent out last week.
Sent by Tim Johnson, assistant director of the Physical Plant, the email read: “As many of you know, we have a groundhog that has taken up residence in the Valley. It has been entertaining many of you this afternoon. AU Grounds Crew has put out a live trap in an effort to trap the groundhog. We have had some instances of students springing the trap or blocking access to the trap for fear the groundhog will be harmed. I can assure you our intent is to trap it unharmed and transport it to a rural, wooded area out of town. No harm will come to the groundhog. Please do not attempt to pick the groundhog up as it will bite and the resulting bites could be severe and have the potential to pass along disease.”
Although Shaver appreciates that no harm will befall the animal, she was dismayed by the news of his removal.
“I understand why they’re doing it, and I appreciate them for doing their job; at least they’re not hurting him,” she said. “I’ll be sad to see him go. I think he’s adorable and I don’t want him to leave.”
As disappointed as she may be by the groundhog’s removal, Shaver realizes the decision is in the best interest of the new campus icon.
“I totally respect AU,” she explained. “I’m not trying to start a movement; I’m just sad.”