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Survey respondents support blue ox concept or no mascot

RELEASED: March 5, 2010

image of blue oxEAU CLAIRE — Most people responding to a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire survey last month favored using a blue ox as a school mascot or having no mascot.

More than 12,200 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members responded to the mascot survey, which was e-mailed in late February to about 40,000 people.

The survey offered three mascot options: a blue ox, a voyageur or having no mascot. Forty-six percent of the survey respondents supported the blue ox concept, 42 percent opted for no mascot and 12 percent favored the voyageur concept. More than 3,000 respondents also offered comments as part of the survey.

"There was an incredible response to the survey from the entire campus community," said John Bachmeier, director of Alumni Relations and chair of a committee charged with researching the mascot issue. "Nearly 5,000 students replied, along with thousands of alumni."

After reviewing the survey results earlier this week, the mascot committee recommended that the university either make the blue ox the university's official mascot or continue with no mascot, Bachmeier said.

"There was almost equal support for the blue ox and continuing without a mascot," Bachmeier said. "Committee members thought those were the only two viable options given the survey findings and comments."

Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich now has forwarded the committee's recommendations, along with other information he has gathered relating to mascots, to the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate for consideration.

In 2008, the Student Senate passed a resolution asking the chancellor to appoint a committee to research the mascot issue, to evaluate possible mascot options and to forward recommendations. With that work done, it is now up to the Student Senate to decide what — if any — action should be taken regarding the creation of a mascot, Levin-Stankevich said.

"The mascot committee and members of my staff have spent a significant amount of time researching the issue and evaluating possible mascots," Levin-Stankevich said. "This has been a thorough and inclusive process that has involved students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members."

Among those consulted were UW-Eau Claire alumni Harvey and Carol Gunderson, who have been actively involved in mascot-related issues throughout the country for a number of years. Harvey Gunderson, professor emeritus of management and marketing, taught at UW-Eau Claire for 26 years before retiring in 2000.

"The survey results and input from the Gundersons and others will provide the Student Senate with a great deal of information and resources as they evaluate possible next steps," Levin-Stankevich said.

The blue ox and voyageur concepts were selected by the committee as finalists from the 29 entries submitted as part of the Blugold Mascot Design Contest, sponsored by the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association.

The contest was created after a 2008 survey of the university community showed strong support for a mascot. Nearly 7,000 people responded to that initial survey, with 69 percent of the respondents indicating that they favored having a mascot.

The mascot contest was open to students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends of the university. Entries had to relate to UW-Eau Claire's nickname, "Blugolds," had to incorporate the school colors of blue and gold, and had to represent the positive attributes of Blugold students and alumni.

The issue of having a mascot has surfaced off and on throughout UW-Eau Claire's history. In 1956, the Art Club sponsored a mascot contest. Students were to vote on a mascot, which alumni were to approve. Almost a third of the students voted, with Buster Bulldog winning first place, but no record has been found authorizing such a mascot.

In 1965 a mascot contest resulted in 25 entries, but the University Senate rejected the results because "students were not given the choice of a 'no' vote," university records state.

UW-Eau Claire has never had an official university-sanctioned mascot.

For more information, contact John Bachmeier, director of Alumni Relations, at 715-836-5189 or bachmejg@uwec.edu.

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JB/DW

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