Mascots are an important aspect of any college. It unites a diverse group of students and brings them together under one common goal. It sets off a sense of school pride that encompasses everyone. Whether you are a boy, girl, international student or right in your hometown, a mascot establishes a sense of pride that bridges all differences, at least theoretically.
In 1947 Fairfield University admitted its first ever undergraduate class into the College of Arts and Sciences. As I’m sure you can guess by now the original plan of the University did not include women. In fact, Fairfield University shares that the academic foundation didn’t allow the first female class until 1970. Almost 21 years later, women were finally admitted to this prized university.
After women were introduced to the school, the gender ratio rapidly started to flip. Fairfield University went from a 100 percent male dominated school to a 60 percent to 40 percent ratio, being mostly populated by women.
This newly founded University had checked almost every box off except the tasking decision of finding the perfect mascot. The University had come to two choices, the stags or the chanticleers. For those of you who don’t know, a stag is a male deer and a chanticleer is a male chicken. Both of these options perfectly represented the all male population of Fairfield University in 1947.
“Lucas the Stag,” Fairfield University’s well loved stag correctly portrayed students at the school in 1947, but 70 years later and only 40 percent of the schools population is being accurately represented by the term “stag.” At all those women’s soccer, basketball and softball games we hear yelling in the stands “go stags!”
This well known phrase on campus is not as inclusive as originally thought. Female athletes put in countless hours of training, practice, and dedication only to miss out on the inclusivity that our campus promises each and every one of its students.
Now this begs the questions: What happens when a mascot doesn’t represent a portion of the community? Would school spirit stay the same? Who is represented and how do the people who aren’t represented view school spirit? What does it say about masculinity in sports? What does this say about Fairfield?
Being a part of a school that is academically in the top five percent of education, it is our job to set an example for other schools in these progressive times. To strive for excellence in all aspects, creating well rounded, educated, motivated and inspired students. For years women and girls of all ages have struggled with finding equality, enduring years of setbacks. Growing up and hearing common phrases such as “Man up!” and “You run like a girl!” sets an unwritten precedent for women. The Fairfield University Stag is just another example that falls into the unfortunate category surrounding sexism in everyday life.
According to Stanely Eitzen in his book “Fair and Foul,” Fairfield is one of just a handful of schools using a male as a false generic. While something as trivial as a mascot might seem minor in the bigger picture that sexism plays, it doesn’t mean that it should go unnoticed. Going to college and being a part of your school is something everyone should take pride in. It doesn’t matter what religion, ethnicity, background or gender you are. School pride stems from a commonality, a singular goal.
Whether you personally know all your classmates or not, everyone has the same sense of dignity and pride for their school. To condense this pride, schools often adopt a mascot to centralize and unite all of its students.
Did Fairfield accomplish this? Do all of its students feel represented? I don’t. I don’t want to be portrayed by something that isn’t inclusive to me. I don’t want to only cheer for half of my school. I don’t want to be a stag if it means that I don’t get the representation and credit that I deserve. Even after all my hours of hard work, studying and dedication, why am I still not represented by my university?