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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The cow becomes official ASUCD mascot

After students voted to change official UC Davis mascot, leaders of the ‘Cow4Mascot’ movement, members of ASUCD and campus administrators compromise by making the cow the first ever ASUCD mascot

By SONORA SLATER — campus@theaggie.org

As of Sept. 30, the cow is now the official mascot of ASUCD, according to an Instagram post on the Cow4Mascot page

“HOLY COWWWW,” the caption of the post reads. “C4M is excited to announce that the official ASUCD mascot is a cow!!!” 

The change was brought about through collaboration between ASUCD and the “Cow4Mascot” campaign, which is a student-organized movement that originally sought to change the official UC Davis mascot to a dairy cow last spring. 

Following the 2022 ASUCD spring elections, in which 73% of students voted to change the UC Davis mascot from Gunrock the mustang to a cow, the leaders of Cow4Mascot entered into talks with campus administrators and alumni to discuss the feasibility of the switch and possible next step was. 

Mick Hashimoto, a fourth-year economics and statistics double major and the head of Cow4Mascot, said that the election gave legitimacy to their organization’s claim that a cow mascot was what the current students wanted. 

“We initially went to [UC Davis Chancellor Gary May] in his office and he was very welcoming of us,” Hashimoto said. “We were able to present the points that we were making about why this change should happen and about why current students don’t really feel that attached to Gunrock, and the election results speak to that. And he was like ‘sure I get it, let’s just say current students do think that, if you get alumni approval, we can move forward.”

According to Hashimoto, following the first meeting between Cow4Mascot leaders and the president of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association (CAAA), there were two concerns: the scope of the re-branding that would be required for the university to change the mascot and dissent from alumni who felt attached to Gunrock as the mascot. 

“We were like ‘okay, we totally understand where you’re coming from, but is there any way you guys could pass a vote or hold an election through the alumni?’” Hashimoto said. “We wanted them to get an alumni vote like we did with students, and they didn’t agree to that.”

Hashimoto then met again with May, who helped the Cow4Mascot team examine the first concern of the CAAA by directing them to the groups on campus that would be most affected by and involved in a branding change.

According to Hashimoto, these groups included Strategic Communications, UC Davis Athletics and UC Davis Stores. 

“UC Davis Stores is the one organization on campus that was extremely in favor,” Hashimoto said. “They really support the cow. Cow merchandise at the UC Davis stores sells by a 10 to one ratio [compared] to Gunrock, so it really goes to show that […] students associate themselves with the cow.”

Cow4Mascot leaders and ASUCD representatives then attended the CAAA annual board meeting and presented a new idea, having dual mascots, so that alumni who felt connected to Gunrock and students who favored the cow could be represented. However, according to Hashimoto, at the beginning of September he received an email signed by May and Scott Judson, the current president of the CAAA, saying that they did not approve of the mascot change and would not be moving forward with it at the moment. 

“One of the arguments they made was the cost, which is completely understandable,” Hashimoto said. “They also said that they want to reignite school spirit in other ways that don’t involve the cow. But they were still wanting to work with us.” 

Since then, Hashimoto said that he’s met with Judson to talk about restarting the student spirit club ‘Aggie Pack.’ Hashimoto has also been working on getting some form of a cow mascot another way. 

“I was thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a student choice mascot, through the ASUCD mascot, and that would become the cow,” Hashimoto said. “Because it went through ASUCD, they obviously recognize their own elections as legitimate, so they said because the elections say that students want the cow, we will move forward with that.”

Former ASUCD President Ryan Manriquez shared his thoughts on using the cow as the symbol of ASUCD.

 “The cows are something that almost every freshman gets to know immediately once they step foot on campus,” Manriquez said. “Once you complete your four years here, you find yourself absolutely loving the cows — maybe [even] in your first couple of months. I know I was that way. I would take trips to go see the cows.” 

Manriquez went on to say that especially post-pandemic, ASUCD has struggled with name recognition with students, which he said he believes a mascot could help change. 

“So many people got behind the cow for mascot,” Manriquez said. “I can see that easily translating over to many people getting behind ASUCD and the services that we provide.”

Hashimoto expressed similar thoughts about how the mascot could impact ASUCD.

“ASUCD actually has such a big role on campus, and it’s kind of not known,” Hashimoto said. “I feel like they could be in a better spot in terms of student image and student voter participation, which can reflect on creating a better campus culture, campus spirit. All of those things make college life fun for a lot of people, so I’m all for that.”

Hashimoto said that he thinks the cow becoming the ASUCD mascot is “a great compromise” and that the Cow4Mascot group understands the alumni association’s position. However, he added that the way he sees it, they are still “playing the long game.”

“It’s hard to make such a large change at a public university so suddenly,” Hashimoto said. “If I can institutionalize the mascot by making it a part of the university by being part of the ASUCD constitution […] I’m thinking in 30 to 40 years, when our generation becomes the alumni, they’ll eventually just have to change the mascot to be a cow because everyone at that point would be more associated with the cow than with Gunrock.” 

According to Hashimoto, the next step will be naming the cow, as well as potentially creating merchandise themed around the new mascot. 

In the Cow4Mascot Instagram post that announced the change, the caption acknowledged that the original goal of the organization had not been met but encouraged students to celebrate the change regardless.

“Although this may not have been the outcome we initially voted for, we still take pride in these small victories,” the post read. “Let’s continue to make our unofficial mascot our official mascot little by little.”

Written by: Sonora Slater — campus@theaggie.org