Campus: Sonoma State University -- February 27, 2002


SSU President Names New Sports Mascot

Today, SSU President Ruben Armiñana chose as the school¹s new sports mascot the Seawolves, based on recommendations of a student-initiated committee. The Alternative Mascot Committee (AMC), a group initiated by the Associated Students last year and chaired by Remy Heng, Associated Students President this year, formed the committee after repeated complaints about the Cossack as a school mascot. While there is a segment of constituents who would prefer to continue the use of the Cossack name, another group of the campus community, including some faculty and alumni, has long felt the Cossacks an inappropriate symbol due to their aggressive past.

"The Cossack mascot has served us for the 40 years of the University. The issue of the negative connotation of the Cossacks came up enough times that the possibilities for change needed to be explored. The Alternative Mascot Committee was charged by the Associated Students to come up with possible alternatives that we could then present to the President for consideration. We did that and he chose one of our alternatives," said Heng.

The idea of the Seawolves, a mythical creature, came from the connection the University and region has to famous author Jack London who penned a book by the same name. The Jack London Collection was recently gifted to the University by Mr. Waring Jones. The collection contains at least one first edition copy of each of London's novels, correspondence written either by or to Jack or Charmian London, writings by both Jack and Charmian London published in magazines, including many first appearances, articles about Jack London, movie memorabilia, ephemera, photographs, and artifacts. Waring Jones felt Sonoma State University an appropriate institution to manage the collection due to the University¹s proximity to Glen Ellen, where Jack London made his home which he called "Beauty Ranch." Jones also wanted the collection to be housed in a public place where undergraduate students and the community could view the pieces.

One of the considerations of changing the Cossack mascot was the approximate $130,000 price tag. Costly items such as contracting with a design firm to create a depiction of the mythical figure of a seawolf, new uniforms for all teams bearing the logo as well Athletics stationery, web site and marketing costs added consequence to the decision.

"The Cossacks mascot has been controversial for some time. Universities change, symbols change. The Cossacks no longer serve the campus and its constituents as a unifying symbol. Action by the Associated Students, the Alumni Association and the Academic Senate prompted this change," said Armiñana.

Two other U.S. colleges have the Seawolves as their mascots: the University of Stony Brook and the University of Alaska at Anchorage.

The change to the Sonoma State University Seawolves is effective August 28, 2002, the first day of classes in the fall. Work on the design aspect of mascot begins in the next few months. Uniforms will be ordered over the summer.

"We¹re looking forward to this change to generate some new excitement and support for our intercollegiate athletic program. The new mascot and logo will be developed to help create a unifying force for the campus, its students, faculty and staff and alumni," said Bill Fusco, Director of Athletics.

The AMC began it¹s work last year after the Associated Students (student government) and the Academic Senate (faculty governance group) each passed a resolution that a mascot be chosen to replace the Cossack that would be chosen from "other than a human group." The AMC had representation by students, including student-athletes, faculty, staff and alumni. Ideas for alternative mascots and comments were solicited through on and off campus publications. In total several hundred mascots were suggested. The AMC then narrowed the list of alternatives to 8 and sent out a survey to the campus community to assess those alternatives. The survey was not meant as a means of voting, rather a quantitative tool to gauge interest in the group of 8 names. Based on information received from respondents, and subsequent focus groups, the AMC presented two alternatives, the Seawolves and the Condors, to the President of the University for his consideration.

"Our student leaders did an extremely thorough job of presenting the idea for change, following through with stakeholder contributions, and ultimately leading the process to fruition," said Rand Link, Vice President for Student Affairs (which includes oversight of the Athletics Program).

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