PHOTO | Tara Espinoza
On Saturday, Aug 10 Arkansas Tech revealed Jerry Charles Young II, the puppy who will be taking over the role of Ambassador from Jerry Charles Young I.
This celebratory welcome has brought up a discussion that Arkansas Tech has wrangled with for years: what mascot should represent our college?
The Arka Tech believes that going forward Arkansas Tech should be represented by Jerry alone. To understand this the background of the discussion must be explored.
Arkansas Tech has three representatives. Jerry the Bulldog, the Wonder Boys, and the Golden Suns.
The history of the Wonder Boys is a long one. It goes all the way back to the early days of Arkansas Tech when the school’s mascot was the Aggies. Following a football winning streak in 1920 that featured the Original Wonder Boy John Tucker, The “Arkansas Gazette” first used Wonder Boys as a proper noun.
Tucker continued his legacy as a Wonder Boy, accumulating 443 career points during his time at the school. Tucker continued to serve Arkansas tech in various roles and is the namesake for Tucker Colosseum and Tucker Hall.
Decades later, in 1975, the women’s athletics teams were tired of being called Wonder Girls or Wonderettes. Student-athletes voted to change the nickname to Golden Suns and it has stayed that way since then.
In 2007 Arkansas Tech formed a committee to review the use of Wonder Boys and Golden Suns as the university’s official athletic mascots. The committee was composed of Alumni, student-athletes, and administration members.
The committee was asked to review the mascots and nicknames and form recommendations to adopt a university-wide mascot; create visual identities for current nicknames, or stay the same. The committee voted 3-1 in agreement that it was not happy with Arkansas Tech’s athletic nicknames. However, since then it seems nothing has changed.
There are many possible reasons for this. A major reason is that many alumni who support the school may still be in favor of the Wonder Boys. Arkansas Tech is afraid to offend and dishonor these valuable supporters.
It may also be as simple as licensing. Many schools across the United States use a bulldog as their mascot. It could also be that there is not enough push for changes to be made.
The Arka Tech believes that there are many reasons there should be a push for change. Having three representatives is very confusing.
If Jerry is only an ambassador, and Wonder Boys and Golden Suns are only nicknames, do we even have a mascot?
Many students do not know. This is even more confusing for people outside of the school, who typically already assume that Jerry is the mascot.
The Arka Tech advocates that the Wonder Boys title be honorably retired. This does not mean erasing history or identity, but making room for growth. Arkansas Tech has changed a lot since the golden age of the Wonder Boys.
Does the Wonder Boys really fit the identity of Arkansas Tech’s student body anymore? We haven’t had a famous winning streak in years. Most students do not even know what a Wonder Boy looks like. There is no agreed-upon image of a Wonder Boy. No official logo or mascot.
If there was, what would it look like? Would it look like a white man? That would not be very representative of the student body or encourage diverse students to attend.
The Arka Tech also respects the work the women’s athletic teams went through to acquire their name just as we respect the story of the Wonder Boys.
However, we believe having one mascot that represents all teams better normalizes women in athletics and displays equality between men and women teams. We believe that, just like the Wonder Boys, ways can be found to retire the nickname and still preserve the Golden Suns as part of our history.
The purpose of a mascot is to unite the college and foster school spirit. The Wonder Boys no longer fulfill the purpose, and the Golden Suns struggle to as well. Having a division between three representatives does not inspire unity.
What are students supposed to rally behind when there is no visual identity or clear mascot?
Since Jerry Charles Young I was first brought on to campus, Arkansas Tech has been leaning more and more into his representation. The Arka Tech believes that the school should finally commit to letting Jerry represent all of us.
The Wonder Boys and Golden Suns will always be a part of who we are, but as times change so must we. It is time for a new era at Arkansas Tech. An era of equal representation, and an era of unity.