Manchester University
Oak Leaves

March 31, 2017


One of the many squirrels on campus, that inspired the new mascot.

So Long Manny! MU Introduces New Mascot

Virginia Rendler

The next time students see Manny the Spartan skateboarding around campus, it may be time to start saying goodbye. Beginning in August 2017, Manchester University will phase out the Spartan mascot, and ‘Manny the Spartan’ will have a new face: Manny the Squirrel will now represent Manchester University. 

This change is a result of student criticism of the Spartan logo. It was often mentioned that the Spartan did not align with the University’s mission statement, which promotes peace amid strife. 

Sparta was a warrior society in ancient Greece, and Spartan culture was centered on loyalty to the state and military service. Cowardice resulted in public shaming, and young men were recruited for military service at the age five. They were sent away from their families at age eleven to begin living in soldier’s barracks. Many students and faculty believe that these values do not align with Manchester’s beliefs, which clearly state that because “our diverse faiths call us to make the world a kinder and better place, establish justice, (and) build peace amid strife.”

Tammy Barber, the Manchester University Spartan Mascot Coordinator, said she is excited to have Manchester’s favorite animal become the new mascot. “I cannot think of a better representation of our school than an adorable squirrel,” she said. “Manchester’s campus is known for our majestic oak trees and home of the black, brown and gray squirrels. What better way to show our school spirit than what comes to mind when one thinks of our University—oak trees and squirrels!” 

While many people feel Manny’s Spartan costume is too militaristic, junior Brandy Whitaker, Manchester University Summer Mascot Coordinator, feels that criticism is too harsh. “Even though our mascot was part of the military history of Sparta, I feel as if it is a strong symbol for how Manny was portrayed to protect Manchester,” Whitaker said. “Well, now we will see how the Squirrels protect North Manchester, instead of our Spartan Mascot!”

Whitaker feels that the symbolism of the squirrel will lead Manchester to good fortune in the future. “A squirrel is a message for us to have more fun, and take life a little less seriously,” she said. “We can see this symbolism in a squirrel's daily routine. However, another aspect of squirrels involves practicality. The squirrel is known to hide and save its food and return to it in the winter months--we take this as a sign in our own lives; a sign that it might be time to put in work now to better our futures.”
Whitaker also mentioned that the squirrel is poignant to Manchester in its ties to the acorn--a classic representation of what Manchester’s goals are for its students, to grow into strong and connected individuals. 

Barber agrees that squirrels hold a powerful symbolism for Manchester. “Watching a squirrel run around the oak trees, across the football field or down the basketball court—Manny the Squirrel will lead the charge in all of us at MU becoming our best selves,” she said. “I cannot think of a better way to bring students, faculty, staff and alumni together, than Manny the Squirrel.” Barber also believes that this will be a welcome and refreshing change.

Students should start getting used to being Squirrels. The next time students refer to themselves or friends as Spartans, they are encouraged to quickly correct themselves or others, and share their pride about being a Manchester Squirrel on Facebook or Twitter. 

There are some concerns regarding the switch. Students have said they believe this new mascot will be too much of a change, and the Manchester athletic teams will not be taken as seriously. Barber does not share these concerns, however. “We are confident our competitors will make fun of us at first,” she said, “but after petting our new Manny’s soft squirrel fur, they will understand our pride and be envious!”