September 29, 2008

A Change We Can Believe in

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My friends, as a respected and beloved (and feared!) columnist for these many years, I feel it is my duty to speak my mind. Never before have I dared enter the fray of campus politics. This time, however, I feel compelled to do just that. Now, some of you may not agree with me. Some may think it’s not my place to use my lofty position as semi-regular Arts columnist to force my opinions on everyone else. And to you I say, yeah, you’re probably right. But I’m going to do it anyway.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for a change. The status quo has left us in an untenable position. We need something that will shake up this University, a change we can believe in, something that will let us hope once more.
I am speaking, of course, about our mascot. Or, more accurately, mascots. It is this confusion that must be dealt with, swiftly and decisively, once and for all time. After all, a mascot is without a doubt the most important part of any school. It’s what identifies us, sets us apart and makes us better than everyone else. It’s our heart, our soul, our collective big toe.
The sad fact is that I’m not sure who or what our mascot is. Are we “Big Red”, or a bear? Are we a big red bear? Is the bear’s name Big Red? Who knows? (Nobody.) Now, I’ll admit I haven’t done any research to find an answer, but the point is that I shouldn’t have to; I should just know, without having to ask. This confusion helps no one. The obvious and only prescription is a new mascot, one we can all recognize and support. The first step in this healing process is to jettison the bear and the red box. We can do better.
So where do we go from here? What are our options? This is a crucial decision, one that will have ramifications for generations of Cornellians to come. From this choice, we can either propel ourselves up the U.S. News and World Report rankings (they do include mascot awesomeness in their calculations, after all), or find our reputations sinking like a big, stupid stone.
Despite this enormous pressure, I’d like to make a suggestion about the best candidate to fill the office of mascot. He has a host of qualifications: he is full of enthusiasm, he’s got great name recognition and he is both big and red. Also, he’s a dog. That’s right, I’m nominating Clifford the Big Red Dog to be Cornell’s new mascot. (You’re welcome.)
Now, before you go running off to lobby the administration into making this brilliant idea a reality, let me explain exactly why it’s so brilliant. According to, Clifford is both friendly and helpful. He’s also as big as a house. What more can you ask for in a mascot? As Ross Freilich ‘09 observed, “Clifford is just like every Cornell student — a born fighter. Born the runt of his litter, he grew to be 25 feet tall, something every Cornell students strives to be in one way or another.” Truer words were never spoken, or if they were I wasn’t listening.
Finally, how good would it feel to have a mascot everyone already knew? Also, you wouldn’t need to buy Cornell sweatshirts anymore. Just dig up that Clifford sweatshirt you had in first grade and put it back on (for the record I definitely don’t have a Clifford shirt that I am not wearing right now)!
In this time of uncertainty, when our most precious and special alumni (i-bankers) are falling like flies, and our vice-presidential candidates either won’t shut up or can’t form coherent sentences, we need someone to look to for guidance, protection and comfort. And what’s better for all three than everyone’s favorite gigantic red dog, Clifford. Let’s get him away from Birdwell Island and over here to Ithaca. After all, we need him more than little Emily Elizabeth Howard does.