As with most horrible events, it all began with a frat party.
I use the term “frat party” loosely. It was a Campus Times get-together, so twice the sadness and half the misogyny of your average frat. The floors were cleaner, too.
Because the staff of the Campus Times can’t make friends (must maintain impartiality and journalistic integrity), we resort to socializing with each other as a ghost of our former social lives. It is from this cauldron of sadness that this “frat party” arose.
On Feb. 15 at 9:32 p.m., I posted in the CT social chat:
Melanie, a social media editor, offered to dress up as Rocky, using dollar-store materials, for $5 an hour. James, a news editor, said he’d be willing to pay the full $25 to see the real Rocky.
This got me thinking: What makes people so wild, for that big yellow guy, that they would pay $25 an hour to see them? Sex appeal? Power? University backing? Why am I running a cinematic scenario in my head where I find my hypothetical spouse in bed with Rocky?
Not to be cucked by a glorified bee, I got to business. No one expects an illustrations editor to care about writing articles. I needed to show my fellow editors that I’m capable of more than drawing Wikihow illustrations.
Using CT funding and resources, it was up to me to conduct research on what made this bee jock so appealing. With this information, I’d create a better, more powerful mascot to more accurately represent the University.
I needed to go all-out. I’d represent the underrepresented, a champion for those who couldn’t see themselves in the tough-guy grimace and glazed-over stare of the yellowjacket. I would be “ever better.”
After being informed that I had a budget of $0, a deadline of a week, and was not allowed to use CT social media accounts to slander a beloved (bee-loved?) symbol, I resorted to posting a Google Forms survey on my Facebook and Instagram.
The survey consisted of short-response questions. “What words would you use to describe the UR student body?” “What do you like and dislike about our current mascot?” “How would you make the campus ‘ever better?’”
In the next few days, I received extensive and informative data from 20 students who were not just CT staff.
Answers were fairly unanimous: Students at the UR are depressed, nervous, and sweet little guys who just don’t find themselves relating to their current school mascot.
It makes sense — Rocky was designed to drum up cheer at athletic events — but what about the nerds who failed the Pacer Test in middle school? Responses told me that they thought Rocky was too much of a jock and their face looked “evil,” “aggressive,” and “fugly.” People seemed to want a throwback to the UR bee of old, with his soft, silly smile and chubby bee body.
With my results, I opened an Excel spreadsheet to compile and analyze this information. Then, I closed the program because I had forgotten how Excel works. I opened up MS Paint and put together a visual representation of my findings:
Info from the school improvement question gave me ideas on what my mascot should stand for. Better ADA compliance and student mental health surfaced repeatedly, leading me to believe the new UR mascot should draw attention to these issues.
With students worrying about the University’s culture of working to the point of exhaustion, putting greater importance on grades over mental health, I decided my new mascot’s catchphrase should emphasize the importance of mindfulness. After hours of shouting at my reflection in the mirror for inspiration, my brother helped me out with a catchphrase:
After two hours of using my friend’s sewing machine to put together some bargain bin fabric, Worm on String (or, SqURm the Worm) was ready. And let me tell you, SqURm debuted with rousing success at the CT frat party. Everyone was so happy to see SqURm, they were screaming with joy! Once, I got on all fours and started sprinting in our Editor-in-Chief’s direction — he was so pleased that he started yelling and said something like “oh NO” (probably because he felt bad that Rocky would no longer be UR’s mascot, but he won’t be sad for long with SqURm on the block).
Other people said nothing and left the room. I understood: They were shocked speechless by how well I did in encapsulating the University’s elusive spirit.
So, UR student body: I hope you have some room for this funky pink SqURm to wiggle their way into your heart. It only takes an open mind and $5 an hour!*
*Two hours maximum. If I stay in the worm costume for more than two hours, the transformation is irreversible and I don’t know if I’m ready to commit to full worm just yet.