This article was updated Sept. 9, 2019.
President Jane Close Conoley wrote that the university mascot is not the shark in a response to a tweet from Long Beach State Student Health Services.
In the Sept. 4 tweet, SHS addressed the student body as the sharks while promoting the department’s Week of Welcome presence. In response, Conoley quote tweeted SHS to clarify.
“Actually, we are not the sharks,” read Conoley’s tweet.
— Jane Close Conoley (@PresConoley) September 5, 2019
James Ahumada, the Associated Students Inc. senior communications manager, said that it is common for other schools to not refer to the student body as the mascot that represents the school.
“There will be a shark mascot at the game, but the school will not identify as the sharks,” Ahumada said about Conoley’s tweet.
There are numerous universities that have a mascot that differs from the school’s identity. University of Alabama has an elephant mascot called “Big Al,” but the university calls itself the Crimson Tide. Stanford University calls itself the Cardinals but has an unofficial mascot known as the Stanford Tree. The Stanford Tree also appears in the school’s sports logo.
Some students were concerned about the school’s consistency about the mascot change, and they felt it was only right to apply the change to all departments since students voted for to be the sharks.
“Students voted for the shark mascot and I think most were under [the] impression that we will be full switching to being sharks so I think they should rename the teams so it’s not confusing,” said Jesus Osvaldo an aerospace engineering major.
Alumni have also voiced their opinions about the mascot changes.
“Honestly, I feel that the money should be used for something more important like paying Professors with better wages, fixing old buildings and add new classes that are needed then relocating a statue just because a small number of people feel uncomfortable.” a class of 1999 almuni member commented on the Daily Forty-Niner website. “Last time I attended CSULB, the art department was still in need of fixing, professors were being let go, and classes were being cut. The money should come out of their own pockets, not the school’s.”
Last September, Conoley officially announced that CSULB would officially retire Prospector Pete and the 49ers as mascots. The decision was made due to complaints from Indigeous Americans, as the school is built on Native American land.
The “Prospector Man” statue that resides in front of LA-5 will be moved to an alumni center that is estimated to begin construction in November of 2020 and finish in February 2022, according to CSULB Facilities’ website.
Many alumni of the university have voiced their disapproval of the change because they said that it disregards years of history. Despite the pushback, the school continued to go ahead with the mascot shift.
Last semester, Associated Students Inc. hosted a campus-wide mascot search where students voted for a mascot to replace Prospector Pete. Students were able to submit suggestions for what the mascot should be, that were then narrowed down by Conoley and ASI.
A community vote ran for two weeks in April before the official student vote that ran from May 6 to 8. The finalists in the student vote were stingrays, sharks and no mascot or “Go Beach.”
The results were announced by ASI on May 10, and the shark was the vote winner.
“The short answer is that we will have a mascot that looks like a shark, but we have not made any decision that the teams will change from being called Beach Athletics,” Conoley said in an email.
A man named Michael Kellner, who identified as a CSULB alumni, commented on the Daily Forty-Niner website in frustration after learning about Conoley’s tweet.
“Get your act together or bring back Prospector Pete (who never should have been retired),” Kellner said. “It’s sad that we cannot embrace our past good or bad, it’s our past. But to take away a legacy that thousands of 49ers have embraced is a process that excluded hundreds of thousands of alumni.”
Austin Brumblay, Editor in chief, and Pavel Pilipenko, staff writer, contributed to this article.