In Dec. 1988, Bradley’s university president removed the “Brad E. Lee,” the cartoonish Native American, as the costumed mascot in response to multiple complaints.
But Bradley only stopped Brad E. Lee from running around with war paint and a tomahawk during homecoming events and basketball games. However, the university continued to use “Native American feathers” as part of the branding campaign, which featured a “B” with a headdress.
Once Bradley couldn’t do that anymore, there were some problems.
In the mid 90s, after a campus-wide search for a new mascot, the Bradley bobcat was introduced, still under the “Braves” nickname. The bobcat stayed until 2000, when it was dismissed due to lack of affinity.
Then in 2005 the NCAA enacted a policy that said Bradley, along with 16 other schools, had to change their nicknames or lose the ability to participate in NCAA athletics. However, Bradley officials got Bradley removed from the list of schools in 2006.
Since then, multiple campaigns for a new mascot have started and subsequently failed.
And now, finally, this year, we’ve been given the opportunity to approve a potential mascot.
The key word here is “potential.” The design was picked based on a survey from the 2012-2013 school year, meaning it’s a “rough draft” of sorts. Not only is this mascot still in the focus group stage, but it’s also still being molded with different personalities and attire. Its design is still so up in the air that practically every opinion on the matter is still being considered.
But I don’t think we as students really understand what this means.
Bradley is trying to change the way we look at ourselves as students. And not just the Student Senate “Friday Pride Day” campaign or the “I Am Brave” campaign that focuses on student attitudes, but on a tangible level.
While the mascot costume for basketball games won’t be completed until Feb. 2014 at the earliest, this is a big step towards motivating future students to have something to stand for.
It’s almost like the student body is a crowd that stumbled in on a basketball game, and all employed members of Bradley, from the student government to the administration, are the cheerleaders.
And, like we’ve said before, the only thing Bradley cheerleaders are fighting is the student body apathy.
So if you have an opinion about the potential new mascot, make sure you are heard. Don’t just complain about it to your classmates or make jokes about us being “The Fighting Squirrels.” Attend the focus groups. Voice your opinion in a real manner.
This is a new addition to Bradley, and we have the opportunity to help design it.
You have the opportunity to help design it.
Because whether or not you speak up, a new mascot is on the horizon for Bradley.
And we definitely don’t want to end up as the bobcats again.