Recharged Interest in Athletics Prompts Mascot Drive

Alumni voting commences on Friday, April 28, on a proposal to create a new mascot for Swarthmore sports.

Voting is now closed.

Buoyed by growing campus enthusiasm about athletics, student organizers have mounted a successful petition drive to bring the matter to a vote. Earlier this month, members of the campus community—including students, faculty, and staff—were given the opportunity to vote among four mascot candidates (three of which are mythical animals) culled from more than 50 suggestions by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the Garnet Club.

The candidates are the phoenix, the gorilla, the griffin, and the manticore. Descriptions of each are available on the voting site.

The vote, Athletics Director Adam Hertz said, "is aimed primarily at gauging the interest of the Swarthmore community." The Athletics Department, administration, Board of Managers, and other constituents will still need to review the matter whatever the outcome of the vote.

Should one of the proposed mascots be adopted, its likeness will appear at games, community events, and the like. It is unclear whether it will become the official nickname of the College's athletic teams.

Helping lead the effort to create a mascot is the Garnet Club, an athletics booster organization formed by students in 2004 to "bring the campus together in a community around athletics and school spirit," according to current president Kyle White '08. The club has about 20 dedicated members who organize pregame tailgates, postgame bonfires, and fan buses to Haverford-Swarthmore games and conference championship games. A mascot, White says, would be "something we can all unite behind."

Together, the SAAC and Garnet Club formed a mascot committee that gathered more than 700 signatures on a petition that included the statement: "I, a current student at Swarthmore College ... believe that a mascot would significantly increase the unity, enthusiasm, spirit, and pride in the Swarthmore community."

Organizers are hoping to avoid the fate of a 1996 effort to choose a Swarthmore symbol, in which 58 percent of more than 1,400 parents, alumni, students, faculty and staff who voted picked "no mascot" over the proposed mascots, which included the "Garnet Fox" and "Little Quaker." This time, the committee leaders hope that their efforts to build support from students and staff, combined with renewed interest in athletics, will ensure that "none of the above" does not carry the day.

Read more in the April 20 issue of The Phoenix.

Send questions and comments to newsandevents@swarthmore.edu, or contact Garnet Club President Kyle White at kwhite1@swarthmore.edu.