Over 2,700 students, faculty and staff voted online to decide the University’s new mascot earlier this month. The issue was introduced to the public in a Town Hall Meeting held by the Communications Staff last month, at which students narrowed the possible Yellowjackets down to nine over three rounds of elimination. The voting then went online, and the results being made public on Oct. 21.

Beginning on Friday, Oct. 5, those who wished to were able to rank their choices for the new and improved Yellowjacket.

“Students followed a link in Weekly Buzz to the Web page,” Vice President for Communications Bill Murphy said. “The page gave a brief overview of the mascot issue and asked voters to make a first and second choice. The site offered first and second choices because a couple of the alternatives were pretty similar and we wanted to capture people’s real preferences.”

“We did have feedback from two ad hoc student groups this summer and the Students’ Association town hall as we generated alternatives then narrowed them to the five on the Web page,” Murphy said.

After students showed how vocal they were about this change, Murphy decided to open up the voting on the University’s new mascot to students and alumni.

Murphy was pleased with the choices that emerged from the Town Hall Meeting. “I thought that several alternatives would represent us well,” he said.

When asked if he had a personal favorite that was discarded in the Town Hall Meeting, Murphy said this was not the case.

“I could see the merits of several,” he said. “Each had different advantages and disadvantages. I was happy with the choices that emerged.”

Murphy said that there were more than 1,500 student votes from the 8,500 total students. Also, more than 1,200 faculty, staff and alumni voted. About 17,000 people in those groups get the daily e-newsletter “@Rochester,” which announced the vote.

The next step is for the Office of Communications to work with the SA and Student Activities in a contest to name the new mascot.

Junior Jacob Nacheman not only voted for the new mascot, but also participated in the series of meetings between students and administrators to decide which would be the final options on the ballot.

“I voted for the Yellowjacket that was selected,” Nacheman said. “I felt it gave an aggressive feel to the mascot while still portraying an intellectual look. While the punch of one of the other choices was aggressive, it was over-threatening and unsportsmanlike. The fist pump of the chosen mascot is celebratory, while at the same time subdued enough not to overly rub our impending victories in the faces of our competitors.”

Nacheman said that he was glad that the University decided to change its mascot.

“The old URBee was nice, but he was a wuss – I’d buy an old URBee stuffed animal for my neighbor’s new baby, but I wouldn’t be intimidated by him on the football or baseball field,” he said. “The new URBee is a formidable champion to compete against.”

Freshmen Danielle Parkes echoed Nacheman’s thoughts. “I think it was time for a change,” Parkes said. “The old URBee was not a good representation of our school.”

Vice President and General Secretary of the University Paul Burgett also commented on the new mascot.

“A new mascot will reflect changing tastes, and the students should have a big hand in determining what a contemporary Yellowjacket should look like,” Burgett said. “I think doing so is a good idea. Even so, I’ve always liked URBee. He may not be fierce, but he was my mascot for a long time and I’ll keep my stuffed version of him as a friendly reminder.”

When asked his opinion concerning the efficacy of the new mascot, Murphy said that he thinks the new mascot will be very effective.

“It is attractive and it projects the qualities the students said they wanted to see,” he said. “That said, there are two measures of graphic symbols: their immediate impact and how well they wear. So far, I think the new logo is wearing well. People tell me they like it more and more as time passes. I hope that happens with the new Yellowjacket.”

Murphy said that he thought the new mascot would have a positive effect on the UR community and the school’s image at large.

“It gives us a mascot that the student body is more likely to embrace,” he said. “I think we will see it used more frequently on clothing, signage, etc. The mascot is part of the overall identity campaign that includes the standard colors, typefaces, logo, spirit R and now Yellowjacket. Consistent use of these identifiers helps reinforce a positive image of the University, but the basic image stems from the real achievements of faculty and students.”

Murphy also echoed Burgett’s sentiment, saying that he too will miss URBee. “I think it will live on, at least as a stuffed animal in the Bookstore,” Murphy said.

Wisch is a member of the class of 2011.

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