While a student attends Arkansas Tech University they may notice that we lack a mascot at our games. But wait. We do have icons that represent who we are: Wonder Boys, Golden Suns and Jerry the bulldog. The problem is that if you ask Tech students, Tech alumni and anyone who feels a connection to Arkansas Tech University the answers will vary.
College is about finding yourself, making connections and connecting to the school that helped put you on a “brighter path.” One way students find a connection is through their school mascot (it is why most schools and professional sports teams have one). Here at Tech we have that connection but it doesn’t connect the way it should, unless it is joking about the whole situation.
During a Tech leadership panel, some of the university staff and faculty asked student leaders about a possible mascot (one that is in the suit and shows up to games to rally support) since we don’t currently have one. A non-traditional student on the panel who came to Tech in the 70s, left for a bit and came back, identified as a Wonder Boy. A student athlete identified as a Golden Sun. Yet another said they identified with Jerry but understood he was not our mascot, we are not the bulldogs.
This is the issue. We believe we need a unifying mascot. One that still ties our alumni to Tech, they are important to our past and future. One that ties our current students to Tech, they are our present and future. One that ties people who aren’t sure where to go to the idea of Tech, they are the future.
Our solution: Pick nothing that is a current option; create something new that has ties to all three. Change is okay. Maybe “Jerry the Wonder Dog.” Silly, maybe, but we want alumni, staff, faculty and students to starts thinking outside the normal.
There is an argument to be said that we don’t need a mascot. We would like to point out that schools like Alabama, who are known as the Crimson Tide, still have a mascot, “Big Al” the elephant. Though the school unifies through one identifier, the Crimson Tide, it still has a mascot that shows and supports the school without tarnishing the identifier.
We believe that because we have three options, none that are declared our mascot, creates a separation and tarnishes any identification we have to our school. We love the history of this school, we love that the Wonder Boys were named so because of the wonder they created in 1920. That kind of mark is hard to replace and should be honored. We are glad the Golden Suns stepped into the light after the Wonder Girls (and Wonderettes) name was questioned. The courage of female athletes to step up and change a name should be honored. We even adore Jerry and his mission to be our campus ambassador. His fight to bring people here and create love of the campus should be honored too. But we need to pick one that honors us all.
We wish we had a more solid solution. We understand that this maybe the larger issue, what is the solution? The best we can say is change is good, hopefully alumni can see that the school is still worth supporting with a new mascot and hopefully current students can connect to something new. We believe that with all this campus has to offer, to alumni and current students alike, that no one will give up on Tech if they choose a mascot. Choose a mascot.