Black Squirrel

by Katharine Reece MFA '12

This former art studio was transformed into a student-run event space in 2005. With its vegan milkshakes, gigantic windows, and red glitter-painted walls, it has become a favorite place to hang out on campus.


$2.50 milkshakes: Captain Elsabeth, The Parent Trap, and Peppermint Shtick are just a few of the shaken-milk originals invented by employees and regulars. Vegan ice cream is available, of course, as is fair-trade, shade-grown, organic coffee from Dean’s Beans. All proceeds are donated to the Students for Students Scholarship Fund (SSSF)—during fall semester, the Black Squirrel raised more than $4,000. Michelle Huber ’12 has been working at the Black Squirrel since her first year at SLC. Now she’s a space manager, along with Anna Fisher ’12. The duo is responsible for maintaining the Black Squirrel’s schedule, tracking the budget, hiring and supervising all employees, and helping to plan events. Fisher once hosted a Halloween dance party, and a student came dressed as a tomato plant with actual tomato branches taped on her body.

A popular microphone: The Sarah Lawrence Activities Council sponsors a biweekly Open Mic Night that regularly draws crowds of 170 people. Many milkshakes are consumed.

Employees: Seven student workers—one for each night of the week—run the kitchen from 7 p.m. to midnight. “Our interest in the space is as a community space, not as a business or money-making venture,” Huber explains. Fisher agrees: “It’s just so nice when people are in here. It doesn’t matter whether they’re buying something.”

Game time: The Midwest, Demi Moore, Going to Grandma’s, or the 1920s—which is most spunky, touchy-feely, or mischievous? Students decide during a game of Apples to Apples, or opt instead to rest their creative minds and shoot a game of pool.

Random painting: Puzzling even to Black Squirrel staff, this enigmatic painted face often disappears and reappears inexplicably. And no one knows who made it.

Studious students: Even when the kitchen isn’t fixing tasty treats, the Black Squirrel hosts plenty of students in search of a quiet couch on which to snooze, study, or just hang out.

Flat-screen TV: The Young Democrats Club uses the loft space to watch political debates. Various other student groups meet in the Black Squirrel as well, including Hillel, Environmental Community Outreach, the Feminist Collective, SLC Worker Justice, and Compost Club.

Ugly carpet buffer: Too expensive to remove during the space’s recent renovation, this disco-flavored fabric absorbs noise that might otherwise travel to SLC’s neighbors.

Stuffed squirrel: The space gets its name from SLC’s unofficial mascots: the obsidian-colored squirrels that inhabit campus trees. Their plush counterparts can be purchased in the College bookstore for $18.