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   Date: 3/27/13 Bookmark and Share

Moose, 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.

Abbie Alexander '13 and the Wilson House stuffed beaver.

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.

According 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 the moose.

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.”

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