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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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All hail mighty Wolfie

(NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)
Wolfie, an icon representing school spirit, encourages students to attend various athletic events and cheer on fellow Seawolves. (NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)

School spirit is an odd concept. And when I say odd, I mean marginally terrifying. This enthusiasm, in many ways, resembles an annual influenza outbreak: it is infectious, relentless and gives some of us the chills (thank God I was vaccinated with the flu shot last week). While at one time it may have been conducive to unifying a student body within a university, it now comes across as a type of hostile, smug-ridden outward devotion. Is school spirit even a good thing? Isn’t excessive expressed pride frowned upon? Well, how could it be when we have a massively adored anthropomorphic wolf effigy to represent this shame? We all, essentially, hide behind Wolfie. Perhaps it is more comparable to nationalism than anything else. Yet, if so, wouldn’t that make Wolfie our political figurehead? Perhaps more appropriately our Queen? (Which is appropriate, considering that Wolfie looks as if he is the cousin to the Corgi). I am sure that if Stony Brook had some sort of paper currency, his terrifying (I mean charming) fixed grin would be imprinted on every surface of legal tender.

Icons are interesting in the way that they seem to be immortal. Like flogging a dead horse back to life, society has proven time and time again how well we can revive a yet again recycled character back into a topical spotlight. And yet, school mascots do not necessarily fall underneath this classification; the notion of them is a bit more peculiar.  Mascots are a bit of a necessity to keep the blight that is school spirit prevalent. Wolfie’s image alone has become a commodity for those who want a Stony Brook following within a campus event. And we, as his loyal subjects-I mean, Seawolves-are happy to inflate this customary mascot trafficking. Just his presence alone is enough to rile up the student body: people are obsessed. I am surprised we have not yet hosted a Diamond Jubilee for the poor sod.

Underneath our Stony Brook Traditions webpage, the duties that fall underneath Wolfie’s remit are listed as such: “Wolfie is the furry, fun-loving mascot who tirelessly promotes Stony Brook Athletics on campus and in the local community. Wolfie’s preferred activities include leading the cheers at Stony Brook athletic contests and interacting with kids and other fans of all ages.” Even Stony Brook faculty themselves admit they “tirelessly promote” this character. And “character” indeed he is, in every sense of the word. I met someone recently who mentioned with clandestine excitement that he was one of the “Wolfie members.” He described the human to Wolfie transformation as a paid job that required a level of training-as if it were some lightly waged internship. These ‘mascot interns’ are obligated to shadow Wolfie at school pride-abundant events, such as the homecoming game.

This, for me, completely shattered the illusion. The fact that our Queen is merely a feeble empty body suit, waiting to be controlled from within, is a thought that haunts me every time I see his complacent, little (massive) face around campus. There is, apparently, a set of traits belonging to the Wolfie ‘character’ that the trainees must learn to embody (yet another horrifying development to the mascot persona). There is a particular gate, movement and attitude the mascot members must vitally adopt when put into the Wolfie costume-which is, honestly, very bizarre. He is an icon in the way that people will continue to emulate him, much like the James Bond franchise.

Yet the James Bond character franchise has been around for sixty years. Even though Stony Brook University was founded in 1957, Wolfie is only eighteen years old. The Wikipedia Article webpage titled, ‘Wolfie The Seawolf’ informed me of the following: “The name Seawolves (previously known as the Soundmen, Baymen and Patriots) was chosen in the mid-1990s as Stony Brook anticipated a rise of to Division I.” Our university is more of an autocracy than we had originally thought!

Supposedly, our initial form of empire was known as the Soundmen, but was then superseded by the Baymen, followed by the Patriots.  Perhaps the mighty “Seawolves” are not as imperishable as they have let on to be. Perhaps Wolfie’s reign of supremacy will only last until the next odd anthropomorphic species seizes Stony Brook University.  Who has yet to usurp Wolfie?  And will our generation be the class of denizens to witness it? While these all remain to be important questions, the current Stony Brook populace seems to be pleased with our Queen. The class of students here today will not, I am inclined to believe, form a revolution to instigate the abdication of his throne. That is to say our figurehead shall remain un-beheaded … for the time being. He will keep this university rampant with Spirit, Pride and god knows what other contagion.

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