The Mascot Steering Committee is currently developing seven concepts for the new mascot and will continue to refine the designs within the coming weeks, according to group founder Will Guy.
The seven concepts leaked on alumnus Damien Goddard’s “LetsGoDU Sports Blog” are: a mountaineer, a mustang, a hiker/climber, a jackalope, an elk, a golden retriever and a robot (a nod to the robotics program). Each conceptual drawing will be accompanied by a backstory for the mascot, according to Guy.
The development process is currently in phase two, concept refinement, which is scheduled to end today. Either today or Wednesday, the Mascot Steering Committee and focus groups will provide feedback on the seven initial mascot concepts.
The committee will then narrow the field down to three or four before sending out a qualitative survey to every DU banner email, which includes alumni, students, faculty and staff, as well as key community members. According to USG President Sam Estenson, the committee does not have a designated day the email will be sent out.
Based on the results of the surveys, the committee will refine the mascot to reflect feedback received from the DU commitee.
The Mascot Steering Committee is made up of 76 students, alumni, faculty and staff. According to the DU website, the goal of the group is “to increase positive school spirit by helping to collaboratively craft our DU official mascot, while seeking to build transparency and two-way communication around the process.”
According to a posting on du.edu, “the merits of each [mascot] concept will be rated individually, not in relation to the other proposed concepts.” If one of the concepts proves popular enough, the steering committee and USG will pass it on to the Board of Directors for approval.
“Something could go out to the surveys, prove to be the most popular among students, staff and alumni, but in the end the board could veto it and then we would be back to the drawing board,” said Guy.
Some pro-Boone students like sophomore Alex Hess are open to the idea of a new mascot, provided one thing.
“I think the key is it needs to be a human,” said Hess, who filmed DU’s Harlem Shake video featuring Boone. “I’m in support if it’s something I feel accurately represents the city of Denver or the state of Colorado.”
Sophomore Nick Tremaroli said USG voted against the vast majority of what campus wanted.
“They are telling us, ‘Look, we’re offended and you have to change tradition and we don’t have to tell you why,’” said Tremaroli. “As far as the new mascot goes, they are going to have to hit a home-run to gain any support at all. If they try to make it an animal, like they did with Ruckus in 2008, it is going to fail even more miserably. This mascot needs to be a human if we’re supposed to even pretend like we support it.”
Senior Zeke Perez, who has donned the mascot costume of Boone, said he’s open to the idea of a new mascot but wants the steering committee to consider all the support for Boone.
“If you’re gonna be open, at least hear out everybody’s side because there are a large number of people that feel like they aren’t being heard out,” said Perez.
A petition on the “I Support Denver Boone for Mascot of DU” Facebook page currently has 1,119 signatures in favor of keeping Boone and is seeking to “show Kevin A. Carroll, Vice Chancellor of Marketing & Communications, Chancellor Coombe and all of the Undergraduate Student Government that the majority of students do NOT support a change in mascot and want Denver Boone as the Official School Mascot to represent the student body,” according to the petition description.
USG President Sam Estenson said he recognizes the experiences students, alumni and others had with past mascots.
“We’re not going to make people get rid of old T-shirts or bumper stickers or whatever,” said Estenson. “We want to find an image people are excited about.”
Estenson said the Mascot Steering Committee wants to make sure the new mascot is representative of everyone’s values.
“It’s so great that we have such diverse ideas of where it should go,” said Estenson. “It’s a monumental task to find concepts that fit with various opinions.”
Estenson said the process of figuring out what will work has been a challenge.
“With any change, there are people on the extremes,” said Estenson. “What it’s come down to is it’s a big task to balance all the different voices.”
Guy said the focus groups and open forums over the past month both stressed two key traits they want to see in the new mascot.
“The two biggest were a connection to pioneer and a tie to the West,” said Guy. “It’s great feedback. The tie to pioneer, though, is kind of tricky because there are so many definitions, some good, some bad.”
According to Guy, there were originally roughly 50 concepts being considered. Guy said the committee judged the potential mascots against a list of 20 most popular traits, or “dimensions,” on what they want their mascot to be.
“We kind of tried to see which made the most sense and try to narrow that down to seven so that our designer [Leighton Hubbell] wasn’t stuck,” said Guy.
The committee worked with Marketing and Communications and professional research firm Stratfix to narrow down the larger list of mascots to seven.
“We tested some of them,” said Guy. “They didn’t fare so well.”
Once the seven concepts were decided on, Guy said the committee brought people from the focus groups back to judge the potential mascots against the 20 dimensions.
“We asked people, ‘How does this elk or this mountaineer stack up?’” said Guy. “[The dimensions] are ranging everywhere from a Western theme to ‘I’d like that on a sweatshirt.’”
Guy said student and community involvement has increased significantly since the creation of the Mascot Steering Committee. Students on the committee were recommended by USG. Other students who expressed interest could join focus groups.
“USG compiled a list of student leaders on campus: we have people from athletics, we have people from Greek Life, the Center for Multicultural Excellence, even student government,” said Guy. “We have just some regular students, students from the alliances, Native Student Alliance, Black Student Alliance…the same goes for the alumni, they were recommended from the alumni relations office; same thing with faculty and staff.”
Guy said he wants to make sure all the designs are as refined as possible before sending them out.
“I think we want to make sure that we get them as right as they can be and then release them to students, because they’re not what the mascot would look like right now,” said Guy. “We want to make sure that they look like what we want them to look like by the time we release them for everyone to vote.”
Students can contact the Steering Committee at DUMascot@du.edu for more information.