I enjoyed William Ellis’s letter to the editor in last Thursday’s “Progress” (“University Should Consider Mascot Change” Sept. 26, A5). He suggested Eastern drop the old Colonel as the athletic mascot and as our university symbol.
I agree with Dr. Ellis 100 percent.
Ellis has deep roots at Eastern, as do I. I served for six years as news editor for Eastern’s Division of Public Information. So I’m familiar, at least somewhat, with the needs and goals of university advancement. I also earned a master’s degree from Eastern in 1990 in English. And, of course, I’m currently a senior lecturer in the Department of English and Theatre. So I have every interest in helping Eastern advance into the new century.
One important way to help Eastern advance is to dump the Colonel mascot.
In the first place, the “Colonel” was taken from another Kentucky institution, Centre College, so we’re trading in stolen goods, so to speak.
Secondly, the symbolism invokes images a distant, and unpleasant past. Eastern shouldn’t associate itself in any way with symbols of the Old South. We want to be looking forward to the future—a future that is totally different from the image that we’re projecting now.
Ellis ended his letter by saying, “Why don’t we say goodbye to the old Colonel and get a new branding that will have a wider appeal.”
Why not indeed! And I have a suggestion of just how to do that.
Let’s get a mascot, say, a bulldog, and have this dog run out on the field with the Colonel for the rest of this academic year. Let everyone see him at every game: football, soccer, basketball, softball, and baseball, and have the dog become the living mascot for the university.
Gradually, we retire that dusty (and, in fact goofy) Colonel costume, and next year, or the year after have the cheer squad lead the dog out on the field for every game, with no Colonel anywhere in sight. The university’s graphic branding could be changed gradually also. We’d include the dog with the Colonel on logos this year, and slowly make the Colonel disappear.
The branding change would emphasize the strength, courage, and loyalty of the bulldog, and not the anachronistic racism and hatred of the Old South.
Long live Eastern! Goodbye to the Colonel!
Mason Smith, senior lecturer,
Department of English and Theatre