Long Beach State students may be seen traipsing around campus dressed in new shark or stingray garb if “Go Beach” doesn’t win in the final voting round for the university’s new mascot in May.
“We are nearing the end of a process that began well over a year ago, with the Senate’s approval of our resolution calling on campus leadership to disassociate from the Gold Rush era,” read a joint statement from Associated Students Inc. President Genesis Jara and Vice President Leen Almahdi.
ASI announced Tuesday that the Sharks, Stingrays or “Go Beach” are the finalists that will appear on the student ballot May 6 – 8. After one of the three is selected, it will be up to President Jane Close Conoley to make the final decision May 9.
“I am torn of course,” said Conoley via email. “Our fabulous reputation in Shark research makes the Sharks a natural choice. The stingray is gorgeous and scary. I love the concept.”
“Go Beach” is the option to vote for no mascot.
“I lean toward ‘The Beach’ but I will look at the numbers and the voting pattern before a final decision,” Conoley said.
The voting began April 15 and was open to students, professors, staff and Long Beach community members. ASI received more than 350 idea submissions and was tasked with narrowing them down to six.
“Honestly I feel like I relate more to “Go Beach” because that’s what they promote since I started coming here,” said Enine Rodriguez, a senior family and childhood studies major. “The Stingrays are too new, which is something that some people don’t like. I think the Shark sounds kind of brave so I like that.”
Ballots instructed voters to rank each mascot 1 – 6. The results from 12,000 voters were weighted in a point-based system by their rank, with the Sharks leading at 53,599 votes, the Stingrays following with 48,655 votes and “Go Beach” trailing behind with 47,239 votes.
“Who decided this? Bruh,” said DeJuan Campbell, junior communications major. “I’d rather have no mascot than Sharks, Stingrays — I don’t know where people come up with these.”
James Ahumahda, senior communications manager for ASI, said the committee was surprised at receiving an unprecedented 12,000 votes.
“The committee was really excited,” Ahumada said. “I don’t think anything like this has ever been done before.”
The Kraken, Pelicans and grassroot campaigned Giraffes are out of the running, but some haven’t given up entirely on the Giraffe, as there will be a fill in the blank option on the final ballot.
“It’s a bummer you know after all the work we put into it and seeing how many people were excited about it,” said Dominic Hure, a junior film student who dreamed up the Long Beach Long Necks alongside third year political science major Jonah Zeko in the fall 2018 semester. “I’m disappointed with the way it was organized — anyone could have voted.”
According to an April 29 pubic report by ASI, most of the votes came from alumni with almost 7,000 votes. Students only made up a little over 3,300 votes.
“Now the mascot might not be representative of what the students really want,” Hure said.
Despite the setback, Hure and Zeko are still campaigning and said they have launched a new hashtag: #LongLivetheLongNeck.
“I really admire the work that the people with the Long Beach Long Necks put into organizing for that idea,” said Douglas Foraste, classics professor. ” … I didn’t have any great attachment to the 49ers.”
Prospector Pete, the university’s mascot since 1949, was officially retired Sept. 20 after a consensus from some campus members that prospectors played a violent part in American Indian genocide during the California Gold Rush.
The statue, erected in 1967, will be moved to an alumni center on campus, which is still in development.
“What I didn’t like was having a mascot that offended people,” Foraste said. “If it was going to offend people it was better to get rid of it than make an issue out of it.”
Josh Sepetjian and Max Perez contributed to this article.
Kat Schuster is a senior and award winning reporter who started her journalistic career covering arts and life for The Cuestonian and New Times in San Luis Obispo. After transfering to Long Beach State, she became the News Editor and happily traded her social life for a string of breaking news stories and midnight cups of coffee in the newsroom. As Editor in Chief she can be found pacing around the same newsroom, still contemplating whether caffeine in the afternoon is a good idea. Kat hopes to someday work as a foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times or Associated Press and to eventually become an author. When she’s not typing away in the newsroom, she enjoys surfing, creative writing, taking herself out for sushi and playing music too loud in her apartment.