Let’s name this thing!
What’s in a name? For the Blugold bird mascot, a lot.
Naming the Blugold bird is one of the final steps as the Student Senate Mascot Committee nears the end of its mascot-related planning and decision-making.
Aside from choosing a name, Student Senate Vice President Patrick Martin said the mascot
costume needs to be created and stored, the code of conduct for the mascot needs to be finalized, and the students inside the costume need to be selected and trained.
Martin estimates these final steps will be wrapped up around the end of this semester and the Blugold mascot will finally grace campus early next semester.
“We’re just about to the finish line with it, then we’ll hopefully have him out on the fields and across campus getting kids riled up,” Martin said.
The process has been a long one, and one that Martin said has been talked about since the university’s founding. But the idea of a Blugold mascot resurfaced energetically in 2007, when now-senior Casey Driscoll took initiative on his own with “Momentum Mondays.”
Driscoll, dressed in a Blugold costume he designed and created himself, stood at the base of Garfield Avenue hill and high-fived students living in the dorms as they descended the hill for their Monday morning classes.
Driscoll said he was active as the Blugold bird for most of 2007 and 2008. Back then, the bird did have a name, of Driscoll’s own creation: Chipp E. Wa. “His middle name was Excellence,” Driscoll said.
“It was a creative outlet for me,” Driscoll said of his mascot undertaking. “A few friends dared me that it couldn’t be done, and I just thought there was no good reason why we didn’t have one, so I wanted to make one.
“At first it was just about having fun, to be creative and raise school spirit, but then things started to get more real. People started writing legislation, they wanted a real bird, they wanted to look into it,” Driscoll said.
Driscoll said he has officially retired from being the unofficial mascot and is letting Student Senate take over the project.
“His version was there at the bottom of the hill getting freshman and the folks in the dorms out and excited,” Martin said. “And the student senate leadership (at the time) thought, ‘Boy, wouldn’t that be a cool deal to have a mascot initiative be on the forefront of what we’re doing?’ It has been tried time and time again back to the university founding, and it seemed like the environment was right to get that finally through.”
Last year’s Student Senate leaders, Phil Rynish and Mark Morgan, assembled the Mascot Committee. The process began first with voting on what a Blugold is, then what it looks like, and now what its name will be.
Martin and the Mascot Committee released a campus-wide call for submission emails last Wednesday, with entries due Monday. After receiving about 200 suggestions, Martin pared down the list to eliminate repeated names. Then the committee narrowed it down to the five names on which students will vote.
“(The list) unfortunately does not include some of the more funny and bizarre suggestions like Bill Cosby and various Pokémon names,” Martin said, “But we appreciated those submissions just the same.”
An email with the five names to choose from will be sent out to the student body early next week, Martin said. The committee hopes to have the name finalized by the end of next week.
But it’s not over yet. After the name is decided, Martin said there’s a little more “nitty gritty” to be taken care of.
“At this point, we’re finalizing the actual costume selection, finalizing the code of conduct, and setting up the back end of it, (such as) where the mascot is going to be housed, what the code of conduct is going to be like, and who is going to train the mascot, who is going to teach the mascot to do the stunts,” Martin said.
Martin said University Centers has agreed to find a space to hold the mascot costume while not in use. The Mascot Committee is also doing research into other school’s mascot code of conduct, aiming to pick the best components of each to create the Blugold bird’s code of conduct.
“(The) mascot committee is doing research to find out exactly what standards they’re holding their mascots to,” Martin said. “For example, down at UW-Madison, Bucky Badger is able to go out to parties and can be out in the community. Other universities are a lot more restrictive with the types of events they want their mascot to be attending.”
Early next semester, the mascot will be used as the official student mascot of UW-Eau Claire. However, it will not be officially sponsored or supported by the university.
“As of right now, the mascot is going to officially be the student mascot,” Martin said. “The alumni voiced that they didn’t feel a mascot was necessary, and the administration didn’t want to actively partner on making it a university-wide mascot, especially since the alumni had voiced opposition, so at this point it’s going to be primarily student driven.”
Martin said future years may reshape that definition.
“In the coming years, as we have students coming in and having their whole college experience be with the mascot, we’ll kind of see what happens,” he said. “For the next few years it’s going to be the student mascot and it’s going to be out there getting students excited.”