There was something missing at last Thursday’s football home opener, despite the excitement of the 3,400 students who packed Zable Stadium. Over the past year, efforts to redefine the identity of the College by creating a new logo — and perhaps even a mascot — have been conducted with a sense of lethargy and apathy. Now, nearly a year after the NCAA made an example of the College by declaring our logo “hostile and abusive,” students, faculty and alumni still do not have a unifying symbol for our athletic programs and, consequently, for our own identity as a university.
p. Since the College dropped its logo appeal last fall, there has been no sense of urgency toward acquiring a new logo for the school. Rather than working quickly to ensure that a new logo would be in place by the start of the school year, giving incoming freshmen an image with which they could immediately identify, the committee will wait until Homecoming to unveil the logo — assuming College President Gene Nichol approves of the committee’s recommendation.
p. Still, the committee cannot be entirely held to blame for the slow progress. The tone is set by Nichol and other top administrators, and there has been a lack of impassioned leadership and guidance in choosing a new athletic symbol. A logo is an important branding opportunity for the school, an opportunity we are concerned that top administrators do not fully understand.
p. Another critical issue for school spirit and athletic pride is that of a mascot. The logo committee was also given the option of creating an official mascot for the College. Vice President for Student Affairs Sam Sadler has said that the committee members “would like to” address a new mascot, but once again, a sense of urgency is clearly lacking. The effects of not having a mascot were evident at the Delaware game, as the UD Blue Hen taunted our fans at will. It is understandably difficult to construct a politically correct mascot that would complement the Tribe name, but creating a mascot should have always been a priority of the College, not just a fleeting possibility that is constantly delayed on the agenda.
p. The apathy on the part of the College is detrimental to the future success of our athletic programs. The feathers from the Tribe logo must be removed, yet feathers still remain on the “WM” logos in Kaplan Arena, on various campus roads and elsewhere. Some of our teams bear the word “Tribe” on their jerseys, others a simple “W” and “M.” Our tribe supposedly refers to our tight, close-knit community, yet when applied to our teams and the administration’s commitment to them, it is very much a misnomer.
p. This unfortunate situation will be fixed eventually, but it is taking far too long. In effect, by waiting until Homecoming to reveal the new logo — if it happens at all — the College has wasted another year in this ongoing struggle. The funding and commitment required for successful athletic programs is severely jeopardized by such a lack of unity and identity on this campus. Watching JMU’s marching band perform in Zable without a marching band of our own, or watching another team’s mascot roam freely all over the stadium without our own counterpart is simply unacceptable. We are eager to see the College’s new logo, and we hope that a mascot will accompany or closely follow this decision, but the progress over the past year has been very disappointing.