Mascots are generally thought of as the personification of a collective identity, a symbol of a brand, or an annoying guy dressed up in a dumb-looking costume at a sporting event.
Some mascots, such as the Coca-Cola polar bear, are beloved symbols—even though real polar bears are less likely to wear scarves and drink Coke, and much more likely to rip your face off.
Other mascots, like the Six Flags guy, are annoying as hell and should be stoned to death.
But the University of Waterloo, my school, should win a prize for the Most Bizarre New Mascot of 2012. Yes, it’s even more bizarre than a large predatory animal who enjoys carbonated drinks.
It’s a small predatory animal that craps everywhere, blocks traffic and has 1,000 Twitter fans.
Nearly as much as its innovative co-op system, computer programs and close ties with Research in Motion, Waterloo is becoming known for its love/hate relationship with its resident Canada Geese.
On the one hand, they’re surprisingly vicious. There aren’t any stories about students being mauled by a flock of geese in an homage to an Alfred Hitchcock movie, but the geese do block traffic and aggressively guard the entrances to buildings, snapping at anyone who dares get too close.
And then there’s the goose crap. With so many geese on the campus, any time students cut across the grass, they run the risk of stepping in a pile of the grey muck.
On the other hand, the geese contribute to UW’s sense of identity. One of the banners on OMGUW, a website where students post “Oh My Gods,” jokes that “the geese won’t find you here.” One user even calls himself ‘gooseman,’ vouching for the geese when other students post angry OMGs about them. On Facebook and Reddit, students complain about loudly-honking geese keeping them awake the night before exams. There’s also that Twitter account, @UWgeese.
Besides, we take it as a compliment that a bunch of birds, the most mobile animals on the planet, have decided that it’s such a nice place to live that they don’t even bother to fly south for the winter.
Come to think of it, the love/hate relationship may be what makes them such a good mascot. They give our campus something to laugh about together, and that brings us closer together.
Now, if only they’d have the courtesy to go crap on nearby Wilfrid Laurier’s campus instead.