Student Government Association was not a fan of the decision.
By Adriana Ruiz
This college’s new spirit figure, the Gnome Ranger, a Texas-style gnome, has stirred up some dust along the way to becoming the mascot.
The Gnome Ranger was introduced to students Thursday at a birthday party in Loftin Student Center.
Students remain lukewarm about this college’s new spirit figure, Karen Elliot, Student Government Association president and American Sign Language interpreter sophomore, said Tuesday.
Elliot said in the past, SGA members have not been fans of the new spirit figure because they thought it did not properly represent the student population and because they feared it could not be taken seriously.
“Student government here at SAC takes their positions very seriously, and they don’t like that it is whimsical and mischievous. They wanted something that was serious and a little more reputable than a gnome,” Elliot said. “A lot of times gnomes can be related to trolls or ogres, fantastical creatures like that, and they just didn’t care for that image.”
The idea of having the gnome as the college’s spirit figure came from paintings of gnomes in the basement of Koehler Cultural Center, said Vanessa Torres, director of public relations and chair of the spirit committee, a group in charge of creating the new spirit figure for the campus.
The Koehler mansion and paintings were created by Otto Koehler, founder of the Pearl Brewing Co. The estate was donated to this college in 1971. In some of the paintings, which hung in the mansion’s one-lane bowling alley, the gnomes are holding beer mugs.
Elliot said that in 2013, SGA members presented the Red Hawk as a possible mascot to the spirit committee.
“That didn’t work because it conflicts with the image that the faculty and administration were interested in,” Elliot said. “Also, because recently Northeast Lakeview chose their mascot as the Night Hawks so Red Hawks and Night Hawks would be too similar.”
Torres said a shaggy dog and a ram were the two other options.
Torres said early in the brainstorming process, meetings were open to anyone, and SGA members had a voice in the decision as well as other students.
“There was some student voice, but it wasn’t that extensive,” she said.
More recently, Elliot said she spoke with about 30 students to get their opinion on the gnome.
“I got some students who thought the gnome was cute, was fun and different,” Elliot said. “Other students on the other end of the spectrum were like the gnome is an embarrassment to SAC, it is not serious and it kind of made them feel like it was downgrading the reputation of SAC.”
Although the college’s official mascot is the Ranger, College Council voted the Gnome Ranger as the spirit figure for this campus in June 2013.
Torres said although the official mascot is the Ranger, she compared the Gnome Ranger to the San Antonio Spurs coyote.
She said the Spurs have their official symbol and they also have the Coyote, which is more fun and conveys spirit.
Elliot said when she spoke with former president Robert Ziegler and Torres, they both wanted to introduce a figure that would be friendlier than a Ranger.
“They wanted something that was a little more whimsical, a little more fun and jovial. They didn’t want something that looked menacing like other mascots because we don’t have any sports teams,” Elliot said.
Information on the college website indicates that the college no longer wanted the Ranger as a mascot because of controversy: “Due to the historical controversy surrounding the Texas Rangers, SAC decided to no longer use a human image to depict the Ranger.”
Elliot said she supports the decision and her mission is to make sure student voices are heard.
“I support our college president and our PR director. I was in the Gnome Ranger introductory video and whether or not I like it, I’m there to support their decision and I’m here to keep everyone together, keep us moving forward and make sure student voices are heard,” Elliot said.