Long Beach State removed the statue of its retired mascot, Prospector Pete, from the Liberal Arts 5 plaza, President Jane Close Conoley announced Friday.
Conoley said in an email that there were plans to relocate the statue to a courtyard that will be part of the new alumni center in honor of its significance as a CSULB landmark, but decided to relocate the statue early.
“In light of the renewed national conversation about anti-racism, we have chosen to begin the relocation process early and have removed the statue from the center of campus,” Conoley said. “We will develop additional opportunities on campus to more fully examine the past as well as honor our Indigenous peoples.”
According to Professor Emeritus Craig Stone, director of the Indian Program, student design teams are in the process of creating a new piece for the LA5 plaza “that reflects our campus’ aspirations for inclusion, diversity and excellence.”
“It will be a place of celebration and reflection and a call for continued work for justice,” Stone said.
The student body voted to choose a new mascot last spring and selected the shark to take Pete’s place. The university’s new mascot will be making its debut fall 2020.
Pete’s place on campus has been a long contested one. Alumni have called for his continued residency on campus while others have pointed out the character’s representation of racial violence.
According to Conoley, the Spirit of ‘49 statue, informally referred to as Prospector Pete, bears a connection to an important yet painful time in California history.
“When installed in a courtyard at the new alumni center, we look forward to providing contextual information about the founding and history of our great university,” Conoley said.