SSU Names Seawolves as New Athletic Mascot, Cossacks Dropped
Today, Sonoma State University President Ruben Armiñana chose as the
school’s new sports mascot the Seawolves, based on recommendations of
a student-initiated committee.
The Alternative Mascot Committee (AMC), a group initiated by the Associated
Students last year and chaired by Remy Heng, Associated Students President
this year, formed the committee after repeated complaints about the Cossack
as a school mascot.
While there is a segment of constituents who would prefer to continue
the use of the Cossack name, another group of the campus community, including
some faculty and alumni, has long felt the Cossacks an inappropriate symbol
due to their aggressive past.
"The Cossack mascot has served us for the 40 years of the University.
The issue of the negative connotation of the Cossacks came up enough times
that the possibilities for change needed to be explored. The Alternative
Mascot Committee was charged by the Associated Students to come up with
possible alternatives that we could then present to the President for
consideration. We did that and he chose one of our alternatives," said
The idea of the Seawolves, a mythical creature, came from the connection
the University and region has to famous author Jack London who penned
a book by the same name. The Jack London Collection was recently gifted
to the University by Mr. Waring Jones.
The collection contains at least one first edition copy of each of London's
novels, correspondence written either by or to Jack or Charmian London,
writings by both Jack and Charmian London published in magazines, including
many first appearances, articles about Jack London, movie memorabilia,
ephemera, photographs, and artifacts.
Waring Jones felt Sonoma State University an appropriate institution
to manage the collection due to the University’s proximity to Glen Ellen,
where Jack London made his home which he called "Beauty Ranch." Jones
also wanted the collection to be housed in a public place where undergraduate
students and the community could view the pieces.
One of the considerations of changing the Cossack mascot was the approximate
$130,000 price tag. Costly items such as contracting with a design firm
to create a depiction of the mythical figure of a seawolf, new uniforms
for all teams bearing the logo as well Athletics stationery, web site
and marketing costs added consequence to the decision.
"The Cossacks mascot has been controversial for some time. Universities
change, symbols change. The Cossacks no longer serve the campus and its
constituents as a unifying symbol. Action by the Associated Students,
the Alumni Association and the Academic Senate prompted this change,"
Two other U.S. colleges have the Seawolves as their mascots: the University
of Stony Brook and the University of Alaska at Anchorage. The change to
the Sonoma State University Seawolves is effective August 28, 2002, the
first day of classes in the fall. Work on the design aspect of the mascot
begins in the next few months. Uniforms will be ordered over the summer.
"We’re looking forward to this change to generate some new excitement
and support for our intercollegiate athletic program. The new mascot and
logo will be developed to help create a unifying force for the campus,
its students, faculty and staff and alumni," said Bill Fusco, Director
The AMC began it’s work last year after the Associated Students (student
government) and the Academic Senate (faculty governance group) each passed
a resolution that a mascot be chosen to replace the Cossack that would
be chosen from "other than a human group." The AMC had representation
by students, including student-athletes, faculty, staff and alumni. Ideas
for alternative mascots and comments were solicited through on and off
campus publications. In total several hundred mascots were suggested.
The AMC then narrowed the list of alternatives to 8 and sent out a survey
to the campus community to assess those alternatives. The survey was not
meant as a means of voting, rather a quantitative tool to gauge interest
in the group of 8 names. Based on information received from respondents,
and subsequent focus groups, the AMC presented two alternatives, the Seawolves
and the Condors, to the President of the University for his consideration.
"Our student leaders did an extremely thorough job of presenting the idea
for change, following through with stakeholder contributions, and ultimately
leading the process to fruition," said Rand Link, Vice President for Student
Affairs (which includes oversight of the Athletics Program).