The conversation over which woodland creature or campus landmark best represents us is a fun and ultimately harmless diversion from the stress of a new term, but it’s still distracting from a larger issue.
We, as a campus community, are failing to address the fact that the retirement of Pete the Problematic Prospector is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the changes in Long Beach State’s future.
The decision to retire Pete came from an Associated Students Inc. resolution from March 2018, and the language in that resolution isn’t limited to only the change of mascot. It stated that Long Beach would dissociate itself from “all aspects that glorify the gold rush era; be it the mascot, merchandise, statues, promotional material, events, or phrase 49er.”
If you’ve ever set foot on the Long Beach State campus, you know that would mean a lot of changes.
We’re not just talking about moving a statue. We’re talking about a campuswide revamp of the entire school’s image. The Nugget, The Outpost, The 49er Shops and even the publication you are currently reading may have to undergo changes to conform to these new standards.
Changes like this need to be clearly communicated to the campus community, but as of now I’m not even sure most people are aware of what exactly the ASI resolution puts forward outside of the mascot change.
This overhaul is going to take a lot of deliberation and manpower. On a practical level, logos and signage will have to change, which will cost money and add to the seemingly constant cycle of construction the campus finds itself in.
There’s also the matter of our school colors. It’s not like gold was chosen arbitrarily; it’s a direct reference to the gold rush. Is that going to have to change too?
I’m not arguing that the changes shouldn’t happen. Last semester, I sat down with American Indian Studies Program Director Craig Stone and after hearing his perspective on how Prospector Pete represented a lot of negative history, and how having to see the statue everyday was upsetting for some students, it’s tough to argue with ASI’s decision.
The problem is, the actual extent of the decision is being poorly communicated.
I’ve yet to hear anyone from ASI or administration address the full scope of the changes in a satisfactory manner. Last week, there was a half-hearted acknowledgement from ASI Senate Chair Leen Almahdi that the 49er Shops would would have to “respond” to these changes, but that answer is incomplete at best.
These are all things that need to be discussed, but we’re so busy trying to figure out whether our mascot should be a Giraffe or an Escalator that we’re not paying attention to what’s on the horizon.
Maybe all the changes aren’t actually happening and those sections that outline them in the resolution were just hot air. But the fact that we don’t know for sure and that no concrete plan or roadmap has been laid out is worrying.
Hopefully the conversation around the new mascot is fun for everyone. But once the fun is over, whether we realize it or not, we’ll have a whole lot of stuff to rename.
This story was updated on Feb. 8 to correct the name of AIS director Craig Stone, who was mentioned as Craig Jones.