by Caitlin Richmond
There are a lot of things people would be surprised to know about the Squalrus. First, it’s a house. Second, it’s more than just a house.
The Squalrus originally was a house where six Whitworth alumni lived, including Dane Ueland and Nathaniel Orwiler. Now six different people live there: Senior Michael Craviotto, sophomore Kent Ueland, Benjamin Leavitt, Jon Kielbon, Kris Hafso,
“Spencer Boyles was intoxicated, and he was looking around the house, and he was like ‘there’s a lot of squalor here,” said Kent Ueland, who is Dane’s younger brother. “He said, it’s almost like a squalrus lives here.”
The name took off from there. They only lived in the house for a year, then moved to the house currently called Squalrus 2, which is at 10205 North Juliann road.
While the house is known by some for its parties, there is a lot more to it than that.
“We have a saying– starve the ego, feed the squalrus,” Jon Kielbon said. “There are times where I’m tired of how dirty it is, but my friends are more important. Sometimes I need to shut up my ego and let my friends have fun.”
Although the people in the house would hate to use a Whitworth buzzword, there is a sense of community within the house that isn’t typical of most college houses.
“We have an open door policy, and it overrides a lot of things,” Kielbon said. “We’re not into judging people.”
The number of roommates in the house is constantly changing, partially due to its open door policy.
“It’s like a revolving circus here,” Ben Leavitt said. “It’s all about the community. We even have a community sock pool.”
Community is something the house members try to encourage all the time, especially when they have people over for parties.
“It’s about losing your inhibitions and being open,” Ueland said. “You go to a bro party and everyone is trying to be as cool as possible. Here the community is trying to take care of its members– like a tribe. We rely on each other financially, and other ways. The Squalrus provides.”
Everyone at the Squalrus encourages people to come by.
“There are no expectations,” Leavitt said. “Come here, be who you are, don’t judge, and don’t expect to be judged.”
The people living there admit the Sqaulrus doesn’t fit into to the Whitworth norm.
“We don’t hate Christians,” Kielbon said. “ I love Whitworth, I just don’t fit in. But I don’t care what your beliefs are if you’re willing to let stuff go.”
Ueland attributes the fact that the house doesn’t fit into Whitworth standards as a reason why students might be afraid to go to it.
“It’s partly a moral aspect,” Ueland said. “Now they’re the outsiders. But they could learn something by chilling out.”
No judgement in the house is a reccuring theme, and one Ueland hopes everyone who finds his/her way to the Squalrus can appreciate.
“I don’t want Christian kids to be afraid of us,” he said. “The house isn’t judgemental, but they feel judged when they come here.”
Only two people living in the house currently attend Whitworth– senior Michael Craviotto and Ueland, but Leavitt and Kielbon both attended Whitworth at one point.
Although the people living in the Sqaulrus are at different points in their lives, there is one thing they all have in common.
“We’re focused around music in this house,” Leavitt said. “It’s how a lot of people spend their time.”
Everyone living in the house now is part of Terrible Buttons, a band Ueland started in 2010.
“That’s actually how Terrible Buttons started,” Ueland said. “We all lived together and people were like ‘oh I can play this,’ so we would jam.”
Terrible Buttons releases its records through Squalrus Records, which was started by people living in the original house. There are several other former Whitworth students who also release records through Squalrus Records such as alumni Dane Ueland and Orwiler.
“It’s not necessarily amazing music, we’re just trying to do what we can,” Ueland said. “Anyone who can afford a guitar should join Squalrus Records.”
There is also the Squalrus Art Collective. Most of the people who live in the Squalrus now contribute to the art collective in some way or another, Ueland said. The house has stencils of a walrus painted all over the living room wall, and prints with a walrus and the squalrus logo have been floating around.
The house will disband in the spring. Leavitt’s parents, who own the house, will rent it out to other students, but the people living in the Sqaulrus will still remain in contact and maintain their friendships, said both Ueland and Kielbon.
“It’s a constant struggle. People want to grow up,” he said. “But there’s no reason to leave your friends behind for a bigger house or a better job.”
Kielbon’s time at the Squalrus is something that will continue to affect him in the future.
“As immature as people think this lifestyle might be, I feel like I’ve grown as a person,” he said.