Donkeys, Beavers—Students Unite Around House Mascots
By Anne Berman '15
One night in the late 1970s
a carload of Talbot House residents drove along a rural stretch
of Route 9 when they came across a mysterious sign that read: “The
Order of the Moose.”
Jes Tom '13 with her moose
and, in the background, the official house moose, mounted
on the stairwell wall.
Alexander '13 and the Wilson House stuffed
Erika Vera '13 displays
the Tyler mascot, Kermit the Frog.
“I’m not sure what the ‘Order’ was, perhaps a secret brotherhood or something?” mused
Jes Tom ‘13, Talbot house president, after reading about the 1970s account, documented
among Talbot house members’ memories stored in college archives. “But apparently
a group of Talboteers decided they were going to steal this sign, which became
a huge, ultimately successful house event.”
Whether that’s how and when
Talbot House came to adopt the moose as its mascot is not
clear. Nonetheless, the moose has
become the official Talbot mascot and an important part of
house culture, complete with a stuffed moose head mounted
on the stairwell wall.
For Talbot it’s a moose.
But other campus houses also incorporate mascots into their culture, and use
the symbols to rally around and stoke house spirit.
Wilson House has a stuffed
beaver, which the residents hide in different rooms to protect
its abduction by other Quad residents. Duckett’s mascot is, logically, a duck, and members
of Cushing House, known for its ebullient house spirit, wear bunny ears at Opening
Convocation and other events to show their house unity. Recent yearbook photos
of Baldwin House show residents there posing with their house symbol: a portrait
painted by a Baldwin alumna.
Jordan House recently joined
the ranks of the mascot-centered by adoipting the donkey
as its mascot.
“Two years ago, Andre the donkey, a plastic donkey, came to be,” explained Jordan’s
president, Elizabeth Petrow ’14. “We would always say to each other, ‘Don’t
be an ass!’ so Andre was a reminder of that.”
Like that of Talbot’s unnamed moose, the origin of house mascots is most often
foggy—more typically a yarn from house lore than documented history.
to those archival documents, a Talbot resident’s father, and a hunter of moose,
donated the trophy moose head at some point in the house’s history.
“It’s a funny oddity that we show to people when they visit us,” says Tom of
Named or not, the moose in the
Talbot stairwell is an important house unifier, and is beloved
among residents there.
“Most of us have multiple moose stuffed animals—moose posters, moose crossing
signs,” says Tom. “I think having a mascot like this, especially one with so
much history, does a lot to unite a house. It’s something we have in common,
and it’s something unique to our house.”
Similar to Talbot’s moose, Jordan residents speak about Andre the donkey like
a house pet that unites the residents. “Everyone puts hats on him, and poses
with him for pictures at dances and parties,” said Petrow.
Not every house on
campus has a mascot, and some are certainly sillier and less
established than others.
The idea for the Capen House
symbol, an imaginary mini-train, came from a senior engineering
major who longed to visit the gym with her whole house without
having to walk there, according to president Sarah Yarborough ‘13.
“It was her dream to connect Capen to the rest of campus, fostering both house
community and laziness,” she said. “This dream connects us even more than its
reality could, as the eternal hope for a mini-train connects past and current
Capenites across the country and the world.”