Hook ‘em Horns. Gig ‘em Aggies. Axe ‘em Jacks, Sic ‘em Kats, Go Coogs. All public undergraduate degree-granting institutions in this state have rally cries and mascots, except for one.
The four universities within the Texas State University System, the nine within the Texas A&M University system, the nine universities within the University of Texas System, and both of the universities within the Texas Tech University System all have mascots.
These institutions all have a shared sense of identity. There is only one academic university in Texas that can make no such claim. University of Houston-Clear Lake needs a mascot.
This university is traditionalizing. The average student age has decreased in the past five years as the number of students between the ages of 20 and 23 has increased. As students are graduating high school with more college credits than their predecessors, more students are eligible for admission to this exclusively upper-level university than ever in the past.
Next year, UHCL will approach the Texas Legislature to seek approval for downward expansion. If approved, the university will begin admitting students to take lower-level classes in 2012, negating the need for students to attend another college prior to enrollment at UHCL.
Orientation and new student programs will grow to ease the transition of not only those students new to UHCL, but also new to the college experience. These students will expect what their peers across the state already have: an identity.
“Blockie,” the university’s unofficial mascot, created by a group of students longing for an identity during Blast Off Week more than a decade ago, is our only symbol of belonging.
Mascots are derived most often from local industry or indigenous wildlife.
As a university in the fourth largest city in the nation, there is no lack of industry. Houston is known across the globe for two of its industries, aerospace technology and petrochemical production. Evident by the warning signs at campus entrances, there is also no lack of wildlife. Sitting on a 524-acre wildlife and nature preserve, UHCL is home to many species of animals.
UHCL has numerous signs on campus warning of the presence of alligators – the chosen mascot of University of Houston-Downtown. University of Houston and University of Houston-Victoria are both symbolized as species of large cats: Cougars and Jaguars respectively.
While most mascots are traditionally associated with sports programs, which we do not have, we still need a mascot. UHCL students are able to complete their degrees at an institution that is focused on the quality of academic instruction and student development, instead of the need to fund a costly athletic program. Our new mascot need not be ferocious. It should not aim to devastate another school. It should simply capture who we are as an institution.
Thirty-six years and more than 51,000 degrees awarded since opening its doors, it’s time for UHCL to claim its identity and give Blockie a friend.