Marineth Sierra –
Home of the Blue Boys and Lady Blues, Illinois College’s mascots are very different from those of similar institutions.
Last spring semester, President Barbara Farley invited students, faculty, and staff to her home and asked them questions about the future of IC. In the group discussion, there was a lot of concerns about how the school tells its story. As years pass, the world gets more ‘modern.’ While IC prides itself on its rich history, like many other schools, it is always looking towards the future.
Identity is an important part of marketing a small school to potential students. Unlike any other college, people that come across IC do not identify its mascot. Questions such as, “What is a Blue Boy?” and “Why do they have two mascots?” are asked frequently.
Dean of Students Malinda Carlson states, “The IC allusion makes reference to the Civil War; it’s gendered. Sometimes the women have felt marginalized because the Lady Blue is a period costume with a bonnet. Some references think it’s a patronized image, and some concern on how well woman athletes portray that image.”
Vice President of Enrollment and Marketing Stephanie Chipman agreed saying, “People have a hard time identifying what a Blue Boy and Lady Blue look like.”
It could be a real mental shift, after having spent a long time as a Blue Boy and Lady Blue, to think about ourselves in a different way. In choosing a different mascot, the goal is to engage with a broad type of people to think about IC as a whole. If IC was to change the mascot, they would surely want their decision to please students, faculty, administration, and alumni.
There are small issues in changing mascots, such as understanding which athletic uniform displays our mascot. “I like the idea of having our mascot changed because right now we do not really have one. Every other school has an animal as a mascot and we are just the Blue Boys, and I’m not a ‘boy,’” states First-Year student Jessica Grammer.
“As VP I would like to work with our athletic director and bring together across a campus of different people to develop that process.” said Chipman.
“I like the Blue Boy mascot and the history behind it, but I definitely see where people are coming from wanting to change it. I think we should have an equal mascot that represents our school leaning towards one gender,” says Alan Shawgo, First–Year student and soccer player.
Sophomore Sam Welbourn states, “I believe that if we’re going to point out sexism in the mascots, we should also acknowledge the fact that ‘boy’ indicates adolescents while ‘lady’ is associated with mature women. Does that mean the male athletes are less mature than female athletes?’”
Although the process is still very early, it is important to discuss this topic and to make sure that various groups have a chance to weigh in on it. It is very much a part of who we are and there might be a way to keep that as our history; it is an opportunity to bring the community to come together to help narrow down mascot ideas. If we were to pursue this, the board of trustees would like to get nominations for ideas and open a voting process. Once it’s been collected they would work a plan to unveil the new mascot and momentum behind the new idea.
Says Chipman, “I’m really interested in how the students think about our current mascot and possibilities in the future. This is something our alumni brought to us and student concerns with that particular image. We are really just hoping to get the best ideas and open to hear them. I think there are some real opportunity for alumni to change the process. Not just for IC in the past but the future and take pride in changing the mascot.”
Marineth Sierra, from Miami, Florida, is a freshman majoring in Mass Communications with a Sociology minor. Marineth is involved in Student Activities Board, writer for The Rambler, member of the cheerleading squad, and a 2018 senator for Student Senate, along with being a member of several other clubs.