A Meditation on Mascots

16 Sep

Hello All!

My apologies for the radio silence, but I have a good excuse: I am now officially a student in the Dramaturgy MFA program at Columbia University. And so far it’s been bliss; I have met all sorts of wonderful, fascinating people who I am thrilled to call my new friends, I am learning things I always felt the lack of, and I get to do fun college-y things like enter beautiful brick buildings while holding a pile of books and using words like ‘hegemony’ (full disclosure: I didn’t use this word. I listened as someone used it and nodded seriously like I was an expert in hegemony, and wouldn’t have to google immediately).

But despite my joy, there is something strange about my Columbia experience thus far. Today, when I was buying some folders, I realized that there’s something very off about me being a student at Columbia: the mascot of Columbia University is a lion.

Now, I hear you say, “but Anika, what’s wrong with that? The Lion is a great mascot – king of the beasts, ferocious, strong, and noble.” And to you I say, yes, that’s exactly my point.

Every educational institution I have attended has had a rather… peculiar thing about mascots. To put it bluntly, they have had TERRIBLE mascots. The first, Brearley, had the beaver as a mascot, which in some ways is an excellent choice; they are hard-working, clever creatures. However, when your school is all-female, the beaver becomes a mascot so inappropriate I know that just the telling of it is a party trick I will be repeating my entire life (well, the telling and the performance of the ‘beaver cheer’.)

See on the right? Beaver Pile-on!

  Nor was college any better; Matthew Vassar, the illustrious founder of Vassar College, was a brewer, so apparently he thought that the best possible mascot for his college would be… a foaming mug of beer. Which turned out to be quite accurate, but probably not quite in the way he intended.

Even my study abroad suffered from the same issues – the University of Auckland had the ‘Auckland Assassins’ which, if you think about it, is pretty disturbing.

So now I have a challenge to overcome; how do I manage to be represented by, for once, something that isn’t associated with murder, happy hour, or vaginas?

I’m not going to lie, it’ll be an adjustment. So just for my own comfort, I will choose to believe that what Columbia means by the lion is this:

Ahh, much better.

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