With the University of Texas' iconic "Eyes of Texas" song currently stirring up controversy, it might be time for some to find a more wholesome way to celebrate the alma mater. Many have already found a reminder of college life with UT's iconic blonde squirrels.
UT alum Marie Romano found out just how special the squirrels are to campus life when she created an Instagram and Facebook account dedicated to the university's furriest residents. Since its founding in 2018, the Squirrels of UT Instagram has grown to nearly 10,000 followers.
It's no secret that UT squirrels are remarkably unafraid of humans, especially when food is around. Because of their friendliness, Romano got a chance to take up-close-and-personal pictures with the animals back when she was pursuing a philosophy degree at the university in 2016.
A native of Brownsville, Texas, a less likely place to find squirrels, Romano instantly connected with her new furry friends. It wasn't until she revisited her camera roll years later, however, that she realized how closely intertwined the squirrels were to her experience at UT. She decided to spread that feeling of nostalgia with others.
Marie Romano at UT. (Marie Romano)
Soon recent graduates and long-time alumni found her page, and Romano realized that the squirrels may be more of a UT mascot than Bevo himself.
"I think they're kind of like the secret mascot," Romano said. "You'll see Bevo at the football game, but with the squirrels, you see them every day. You can't escape them—they're going to come up to you and ask you for your waffle fries from Chick-Fil-A. And I think that's why a lot of people, when they think back to their time (at UT), they're going to remember this squirrel."
After visiting campus and posting squirrel updates for a year, Romano came up with a new way to connect her audience to each squirrel's individual personality. She used Kickstarter to fund her new project, a Squirrels of UT yearbook. The book was an instant hit.
"It was the most fun project I've ever done," Romano said. "I felt like I was in the yearbook club at high school or something, but it was really fun, especially photoshopping graduation caps on the squirrels."
When the pandemic hit the following spring, Romano decided to follow up her former project with a special commencement video. Thanks to Romano, students who may not have walked the stage themselves could cheer themselves up by watching graduates like "Cashew, B.S. in Nutology" get the recognition they deserve.
While their diplomas may not be real, the squirrels' names certainly are. As the hustle and bustle of campus life goes on, UT squirrels have their own goings-on right underneath our noses. Renowned family dynasties can span generations, including the most famous example, the blonde squirrel clan.
Romano found herself learning about much more than just squirrel clans as her relationships with the creatures grew stronger. By now, she can use a three-step process—location, appearance and personality—to tell each squirrel apart. She's been so successful with telling each squirrel apart that she did a presentation about her process in a human anthropology class. She says it's like "reading human faces;" it takes practice, but soon it becomes natural.
Each post on her Instagram not only gives a close-up shot of a chubby-cheeked creature but also gives a little tidbit into what makes that squirrel so special.
Although she is a fan of all of the squirrels, she's partial to a few: Teacup, who loves humans but doesn't like other squirrels, and Nutter Butter, an older gentleman with chubby cheeks who loves to share.
"The more flamboyant they are, the more I like them," Romano said. "They're individual squirrels with their own individual personalities."
While the pandemic has halted some of her creative processes, Romano won't stop posting UT's nuttiest residents anytime soon.
"At the end of the day, it's pure, light-hearted content that brings a smile to people's faces," she said.
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After their first two-win week and a two-week hiatus, Austin FC is back at home against Minnesota United as they attempt to up their home win streak to three on Saturday.
The team kicks off at 8 p.m. against the Loons in their first matchup since a 2-0 loss in June, but they're 1-1 against the club after beating Minnesota in May for their first-ever shutout.
Austin maintains a last-place spot in the West but has seen a bit of a late comeback with two wins in their last three matches. Austin's Cecilia Dominguez, who scored a brace for the team in their last match against Real Salt Lake, will look to keep that momentum as the team works for another victory. Meanwhile, the seventh-place Loons will work to keep that last spot in playoff contention as the season nears its end.
Follow along here for updates on the biggest plays of the match.
80' Austin makes first subs
With just over 10 minutes left in regulation ,Austin FC made some late-game subs, swapping Diego Fagundez for Austinite McKinze Gaines and Sebastian Driussi for forward Jon Gallagher. Both have a history of clutch performances for the team: Gaines scored just 10 minutes in to his first match of the game back in September, while Gallagher was Austin's first scorer at Q2 Stadium.
It's looking more like a draw at best for Austin as the time continues to tick down on the match.
61' Djitte loses chance after controversial call
In the 61st minute of a less-cohesive half for Austin, Moussa Djitte found himself alone near the goal with a good chance at making the home team's first goal. But referees had another ideas, making another controversial call on the Senegalese striker.Refs stopped Djitte's menacing drive after Minnesota's Michael Boxall appeared to flop in a run-in with the striker, curbing Djitte's attempt to boos from the crowd. It's Djitte's second foul of the night and the team's ninth foul in the match. Both clubs host a yellow card, with center back Julio Cascante holding the home team's sole warning call. Minnesota's Emmanuel Reynoso holds the away team's yellow after an obvious flop that left him rolling on the ground for minutes, waiting on a call.
Blown whistles for both sides have slowed the match's tempo and left both clubs reeling as Austin looks for its first goal.
At the half: Austin still can't finish
45' still left to play. pic.twitter.com/39J1XnvvOc— Austin FC (@AustinFC) October 17, 2021
With minutes-long shooting sprees and more shots on goal than Minnesota, Austin could easily have the lead in the match. But each crowd-raising attempt has still been slightly skewed as the home team ends the half with nothing on the board.
In just 45 minutes, both Austin and Minnesota have reached the double-digits in scoring attempts, but Minnesota's ability to infiltrate Austin's penalty box has given them the leg up in the match. The Loons have sometimes found themselves nearly alone alarmingly close to goal, and they've capitalized on their chances with a 16thb minute goal by Franco Fragapane.
Austin FC, however, has not. The club has seen close calls from Dominguez and Driussi, headers from Djitte and near-misses from Tomas Pochettino, but missed opportunities and a few strokes of bad luck have left them scoreless. The team will need to shake their age-old scoring issues if they hope to get back into tonight's game.
16' Minnesota nabs 1-0 lead
Austin may have struck first, but Minnesota won the first points on the board as Franco Fragapane got one past keeper Brad Stuver from a close range in the 16th minute to make it 1-0. The Loons tested Stuver just as Austin did Miller, making two anxiety-inducing shots before Fragapane struck gold.
This goalie-vs.-goalie match has already seen three shots on goal from each team and a relatively quiet midfield as each team dukes it out in the box.
11' Austin tests Minnesota first
Austin FC has taken no time to threaten goal. In a three-minute span, the home team has racked up three shots, two of which are on goal, as the ball bounces between Austin attackers but can't quite find the net.
Dominguez strikes first as he looks to find his third goal in three matches in the eights minute, but Minnesota's Tyler Miller fights back with a clutch save. Djitte then tests Miller just seconds later, while Driussi takes a final shot from farther back that just misses the top left corner.
Austin's Fagundez and Pochettino were the playmakers of the three-minute shooting spree, but the club still came out scoreless. Minnesota soon rebounded with a shot of their own that was blocked by keeper Brad Stuver.
This may be Austin FC's most popular lineup— even the crankiest fans are commending the strong starting XI on Twitter. Tonight's starters are the same as in their win against Salt Lake.
New standouts Moussa Djitte and Sebastian Driussi are in alongside double-scorer Cecilio Dominguez up front, while fan favorite Diego Fagundez, Captain Alex Ring and Designated Player Tomas Pochettino take the midfield.
With Matt Besler still out on concussion protocol, Zan Kolmanic, Jhohan Romana and Julio Cascante take the back along with Hector Jimenez, who is in for right back Nick Lima. As (almost) always, Brad Stuver holds it down in goal.
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An Austin-based program manager for Apple Maps and one of two leaders for the #AppleToo activist movement said she has been fired after a suspension.
According to the New York Times, Janneke Parrish said she was put on suspension for several days while the company investigated her activities before she was fired by a human resources employee via phone call on Thursday.
Parrish was under investigation for allegedly leaking a recording of an Apple staff meeting to the media, which she said she didn't do.
The report said the company told Parrish, who is 30, that she was being fired for having deleted files off her company-issued phone and computer before handing them in for examination. Parrish said the files she deleted contained her personal and financial information.
Among the files she deleted were the Robinhood app, which she said was to keep Apple from seeing "how much money I lost investing in GameStop," the Pokemon Go app and screenshots of programming bugs she was fixing.
Parrish said she believes Apple was retaliating against her efforts in organizing #AppleToo, a group of employees working to expose the company's "culture of secrecy" that has been "faced disproportionately by our Black, Indigenous, and other colleagues from minoritized racial, gender and historically marginalized groups of people."
Parrish had been publishing weekly accounts of workplace problems that had been shared anonymously with her from other employees, though she did not verify employment on all of them. The accounts she received were in the hundreds, so Parrish said she was hopeful her termination would lead to some justice within the company.
Employees at tech giants have been more outspoken than usual in recent months—with former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen speaking out against her former employer—and Parrish said the company's desire to keep under wraps has eroded trust by discouraging employees to come forward with issues like harassment or wage disparity.
Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock commented on the matter: "We are and have always been deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace. We take all concerns seriously and we thoroughly investigate whenever a concern is raised and, out of respect for the privacy of any individuals involved, we do not discuss specific employee matters."
Additionally, the email detailing her termination, which was obtained by the New York Times, said Apple had determined that Parrish "engaged in conduct in violation of Apple policies including, but not limited to, interfering with an investigation by deleting files on your company provided equipment after being specifically instructed not to do so."
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