“It isn’t already?”
This was how many Drew students reacted when asked whether our mascot should be changed to a squirrel. It makes sense—squirrels appear on much of our school’s merchandise, our school newspaper is called The Drew Acorn and it seems impossible to walk anywhere on campus without seeing a gray, bushy tail. And yet, despite all this fanfare, our school’s mascot is not a squirrel. That title goes to a large bipedal bear, known as Ranger Bear.
But, ignoring their absence from our campus for a moment, bears are simply overused as mascots. Many, many prominent schools already have the bear as their mascot—from the University of Maine and Brown University to Missouri State and UC Berkeley. Drew has so many characteristics that make it unique, so why is our mascot so unoriginal?
Let’s get this out of the way—I don’t hate Ranger Bear. Our current mascot has done more or less what it needs to do: greet new students, cheer on athletes and boost school spirit. However, what does Ranger Bear say about Drew? Not very much. Ranger Bear is fierce, powerful and imposing- sure. But, let’s be honest with ourselves. We’re a small, quirky, liberal arts school in a forest in New Jersey. Wouldn’t a small, quirky, squirrel fit us better? Besides, while many creatures have been spotted across Drew’s campus (squirrels, deer, raccoons and occasionally a groundhog), a bear is not among them.
It seems clear to me that the squirrel is an excellent mascot for Drew University- I mean, we are a squirrel haven in every sense of the word. But there are many other ways in which a squirrel mascot perfectly suits Drew. After all, if we look a little deeper, squirrels have many admirable traits that are reflected by Drew students. They are intelligent, inquisitive and curious creatures. They excel at planning and adapting to change, and they are not afraid to be a little nutty. Although squirrels are small- they’re mighty- just like Drew!
Finally, having a non-traditional mascot has proven to be greatly successful for other schools. For example, University of California Santa Cruz’s official mascot—Sammy the Banana Slug—is hugely popular, mostly due to how unique and iconic it is. Anyone from California can attest that finding someone sporting UC Santa Cruz merch featuring Sammy is a common sight, including many who have never attended the school. Standing out is especially important in today’s day and age with many colleges reporting declining enrollment.
If Drew University officially adopts a squirrel as its mascot, we will look more unique to those who are unsure if Drew is for them—and that’s something we can all benefit from.
Featured image courtesy of Drew University Facebook