In the near future a 1,200-pound, antlered, hairy beast may be the rallying point for Dartmouth athletic teams. A recent survey by the Student Assembly found that nearly a third of Dartmouth students would like the moose to be the College's official mascot, making the moose the clear front runner in the Assembly's mascot search.
The Assembly received nearly 700 suggestions for a new mascot via a Blitzmail survey conducted for that purpose. The moose led the way with 28 percent of the vote. Behind the moose was the Dartmouth Indian which received 19 percent of the vote.
Members will not take the controversial Indian symbol into consideration despite the sizable amount of votes it received.
"The reasons were made pretty clear when we had our week-long series of discussions about the Indian as a symbol of Dartmouth," said Anand. He emphasized that the Assembly would take all other student suggestions into consideration.
This year's campaign for recognition won't be a first for the moose. In 1997 a campus group called the Big Green Backers tried to conduct a search for a campus mascot. When the Backers unveiled their suggestion -- a mascot which had also won campus wide support in a survey -- it was met with a lukewarm reception.
Things were looking up for the moose a year later when the moose was moved to a pseudo-official status as "official fan entertainment" of the Dartmouth department of athletics. Yet the moose did not have strong support in all sectors of the College, including then Director of Athletics Richard Jaeger, and was removed during the 2000 season.
Other survey mascot suggestions such as the Mountaineers, Dragons, Timberwolves, Eagles, Bears and Pine Trees received a small number of votes.
Student Life Committee Chair Amit Anand '03 -- a leader of the search for the new mascot -- attributed the low number of votes for these other mascots to the fact that the moose has been an unofficial symbol of the College for a long time. He said that as the other ideas are released, the other mascot ideas may gain strength.
Over the summer, artists will create icons of potential mascots to enable students to "visualize" what the new mascots will look like, Anand said.
Anand said that if the moose remains popular, artists make be asked to create several different renditions of the moose and then students could choose which one they liked best.
Once the icons have been created, students will vote on which mascots they feel best represents Dartmouth, at which point the top mascot choices will be presented to alumni, the department of athletics and then finally to the Board of Trustees, the only body that can elect an official mascot for Dartmouth.
Anand said gaining the support of the Trustees may be difficult, because while the Indian was an emblem of Dartmouth for many years, it was never officially recognized by the Trustees as an official mascot.
The Assembly has also started a trial-run of its memorabilia exchange program where Dartmouth alumni and students can exchange Dartmouth Indian apparel and accessories for new Dartmouth gear.
Thus far the Assembly has received requests for "a handful" of exchanges, Anand said. Members expect real demand for exchanges to begin once the College has apparel with a new, official mascot on it, he said.