The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

New exhibit of school’s mascot Blu

Three students come together to make a exhibit of Blu’s history
Photo by Taylor Boggess
A glimpse of Blu’s exhibit in Davies.

On Tuesday, Sept. 19, three students opened an exhibit for the school mascot, Blu. The idea was created by Kyle May, a fifth-year math education student and the mascot coordinator.

May became curious about delving into Blu’s history during an admitted students’ day when someone had asked the question of what a Blugold actually was. As a member of the Student Senate, May was able to do what he called a “passion project” for which he recruited two other students to help bring Blu’s history to light.

Lauren Garbisch, a fourth-year history student did the majority of the research and writing for the exhibit and RJ Murray, a fourth-year social studies education student, was the co-writer and editor.

According to May, the goal of the project was to create clarity amongst the students and faculty as to not only what a Blugold is, but also the history. 

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Garbisch said it was hard to find facts on the actual bird, but there were multiple resources in the McIntyre Library on previous mascots, the ones that never managed to stick. 

Garbisch said one of her favorite things to learn about were two previous cat mascots in 1938 named Toughy the cat. The feline was brought to a basketball game and ran away, and then was brought back dead.

Though the cat’s legacy lived on when one of their kittens became the following mascot, Toughy the Second.

A photo of Toughy with the 1937-38 men’s basketball team. (Photo used with permission from UW-Eau Claire Special Archives)

But for Blu himself, the three students all said that Blu is one of the only unofficial mascots in the UW System. 

May said in comparison to other UW System schools, UW-Eau Claire is one the only schools that has the student body run everything related to the mascot.

According to May, there have been major tensions between faculty and the student body about having Blu as the mascot.

Garbisch and Murray said that Blu is not recognized by the university, only by the student body. While creating the exhibit, they conducted a survey giving students an opportunity to voice their opinions on what it means to be a Blugold on campus.

“There seems to be this larger collective of people (who) don’t identify with the mascot being a Blugold, but instead a Blugold being a student, a community and the spirit of how we come together as a student body,” Murray said. “And having that survey in (the exhibit) plays on the fact that school spirit is up to us as students.”

May said Blu’s history only goes back to 2013, but past 2013 you see the controversies, mascot competitions and especially the push and pull between admin and students.

“UW-Eau Claire holds a very special place in my heart and being able to not only define a mascot but also it was cool being a part of it,” Garbisch said. “School spirit is really a feeling and that’s the alumni, the students and the community. That makes this place somewhere people love to be.”

With Blu’s tenth birthday coming up on Oct. 7, students can check out the completed exhibit on the alumni side on the third floor of Davies, where Garbisch and Murray plan to continue to add to as more history is learned.

“I think it really does deserve recognition not just from the students but also from faculty, admissions, admin who let Blu be the student-led mascot they are today,” May said.

Boggess can be reached at [email protected].

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    TracySep 26, 2023 at 3:37 pm

    What a terrific history lesson and impressive display by these students! It perfectly captures the spirit every school and campus should have.