For the last few years, there has been struggle and tension surrounding the original mascot of Long Beach State, Prospector Pete. Though some saw Pete as a harmless and fictitious caricature representing the pioneering spirit of the founding president, Peter Victor Peterson, others found the mascot to be disrespectful of the Puvungna land on which the university is built up upon, and a symbol of the colonizers in the past who stole land and lives from native people.
The 51-year-old statue of Prospector Pete, which stood in the Liberal Arts 5 plaza since its erection in 1967, was removed this past June. Pete’s removal was met with confusion, especially for the thousands of new students being admitted to the school, with little-to-no knowledge of the university’s identity and culture.
As a transfer student to CSULB, I was unaware of the preexisting layers behind the mascot. In fact, during my first tour of the campus I was more confused than anything as to what the mascot even was.
While walking around in March before the campus closed due to coronavirus, I saw all different kinds of manifestations of the campus’ spirit. There were murals that loudly exclaimed “Go Beach” throughout the campus, but in the bookstore shirts cheered on the “Dirtbags” and some even had squirrels on them.
It wasn’t until I googled CSULB’s mascot that I realized it was a shark.
Without a clear mascot, I feel there’s a certain estrangement between the students and the school. All the different nicknames and mascots circulating on campus representingCSULB made it feel like the school is having an identity crisis. With so much conflict and confusion, what is there to represent the students?
CSULB posted on Instagram Aug. 17 revealing the new official mascot, Elbee the shark, in full suit. Though many people in the comments complained at the lack of creativity in the mascot’s name, others expressed relief that the mascot wasn’t a squirrel.
There will always be criticisms and concerns regarding mascots. Some are upset with the new mascot because they feel it gives too much attention to the already esteemed science program at CSULB. Others are still mad about Pete’s departure.
Still, as a coastal school that represents the beach, I think sharks are a neutral and fitting mascot for the school.
Personally, I’m just relieved to have a clear mascot to claim and represent our school.