Mullins: Lions, Tigers and… The Big Green? Oh My.
Almost anything would be better than the current College symbol.
So there I was on Friday night — standing on Fahey lawn, on the outskirts of the huddled masses in front of the concert stage, waiting for Saint Motel to start its performance. The air was comfortable, the crowd bustling, the vibes good at the first Green Key since 2019. The seemingly random Spotify playlist that had been on since Doechii left the stage cut out, and Saint Motel ran out to cheers. That’s when lead singer A/J Jackson said it: “Let’s go, Big Green!”
Middling cheers ensued. It was jarring, hearing our weird mascot uttered aloud by someone outside the Dartmouth community. But, credit to him for making an effort to connect with the college audience. Then the band began playing, and the shout left my mind. Several songs that all sounded vaguely alike — Saint Motel’s range is not exactly massive — passed, and then it happened again. “Go Green!” Jackson yelled.
For many of the deeply inebriated concertgoers, the shout was no doubt lost in the music and drug-fueled haze. But I, sober as the bored-looking Canaan police officers called in for extra security, remember. It was yet another reminder after four years in Hanover that Dartmouth’s mascot — the Big Green — is so weak, so forgettable, so utterly bad that even Jackson, who has to remember complex lyrics like “woah oh oh oh oh oh ohhhhhhh,” could not get the whole thing right.
Of course, when the Big Green was adopted in the 1970s as a replacement for the racist Dartmouth Indian figure, it was an improvement. Few community members, outside of some particularly curmudgeonly alumni, would approve of such a mascot today. But “not racist” should not be the bar we are looking to exceed. I believe we can do better — only a narrow majority of students in 1981 supported “the Big Green,” and I have met almost none who genuinely support it today. Plus, a new mascot could help revive school spirit after the pandemic ravaged our sense of community, something we burnout-afflicted students sorely need.
But what to pick? Dartmouth could look to the examples of the Brown University Bears, Columbia University Lions, Princeton University Tigers and Yale University Bulldogs and choose an animal. Suggestions in the past have included the “Timber Wolves” and the “Bucks,” both excellent choices (though they also happen to be Upper Midwest NBA teams). I would also toss out the “Minks” as an option, given their prevalence in the area.
The “Dartmoose” is, however, my favorite animal option — and has a strong backer in Chuck Sherman ’66, who mans the information booth on the Green during the summer and maintains a “Mooseum” of Dartmouth- and moose-related memorabilia. The moose is native to the area and is plenty threatening, if we’re looking for an imposing mascot. According to Sherman’s research, there is even a Dartmoose costume somewhere — in his collection, he has photos of people wearing it, possibly from the early 2000s when the moose had a surge of popularity — so the athletic department may not even need to procure a new costume for games.
We could also look to the University of Pennsylvania Quakers and Harvard University’s John Harvard and pull from our history. To this end, I humbly suggest the “Judges”: Such a choice would indirectly honor Daniel Webster, Class of 1801, who famously argued the 1819 Dartmouth College v. Woodward Supreme Court case that prevented the College from being converted to a state university and strengthened contract law against government predation. Plus, it would lend itself to a number of law pun-filled chants (“Objection!” “Injunction!” “You just got served!”) that could be employed to great hilarity against opposing teams at athletics matches.
Whatever the new mascot is, it should be decided by a referendum among students, faculty and staff — preferably a ranked choice, instant-runoff vote that would deliver a verdict a majority of community members back. This could be a fun side project for newly elected student body president David Millman ’23, who seems to have a strong mandate from the student body. Whoever is tapped as College President Phil Hanlon’s replacement may also be looking to make a mark on Dartmouth early on, and this could be some low-hanging fruit.
The one unacceptable path forward is continuing with our current mascot. As Sherman so eloquently put it in a Q&A with The Dartmouth, “I think it’s lame to cheer for a wavelength of light.” The Big Green inspires no fear in the hearts of our Ivy League opponents, and no excitement in the minds of new students. It is so weak a mascot that when one Googles “Dartmouth mascot,” the first eleven pictures are of the Jack-O-Lantern’s Keggy the Keg — which is, frankly, a better mascot than the color green, given the sloshy weekend we just enjoyed.
There are definitely more pressing problems facing Dartmouth than our lackluster symbol, but that does not change the fact that swapping it is overdue. Pick a new mascot, Dartmouth — it’s long past time.
Kyle Mullins is the former editor-in-chief of The Dartmouth. He is now a member of the Opinion staff and his views do not necessarily represent those of The Dartmouth.