Apparently the hippo never was in any real danger, but the outburst of support for the beloved water mammal last week showed exactly what it means to the entire GW community, both in Foggy Bottom and scattered around the country.
The hippo is but a small figure in the larger picture of GW, yet its two-toothed grin symbolizes what is great about this school. If anything, the misunderstanding about its potential removal has made it clear that the more off-beat traditions can really bring out GW’s sometimes latent school spirit.
There is probably a multitude of reasons why students choose GW, but a lot of it has to do with GW not being a typical, standard university. The eccentric people, places and things that populate this campus are what attract people and give them a unique sense of community and spirit that could not be found or harvested anywhere else.
The students and professors who congregate in the classrooms of this school are plenty diverse in their own capacity, but they are not the only ones that populate this campus. Possibly the most sparkling gems and symbols of spirit in these few blocks are those that are far from being perfectly polished.
Characters such as Manouche and Old Man Schenley have also been a part of our college experience and serve as symbols of the very unique individuals one could meet at GW. They are far from standard, just like our friend the water horse, but it is this lack of normalcy that embodies our spirit and pride.
GW as a place is quite different than most schools. Though it lacks abundant green spaces, it compensates with its proximity to the happenings of the world. This has never been more evident than during this election cycle, when students have had the opportunity to see numerous candidates, members of congress and other powerful individuals speak about the future of our country and where it stands in the world. Most universities will never see the many faces that have stopped by campus, but then again most universities don’t have an adorably surly hippo out front either.
The people and places that encompass GW are definitely unique and intriguing, but it is the traditions that can pull you in and convince you that you are a part of a bigger picture. Unfortunately, it appears that we are slowly losing some of those crazy nuances that truly set GW apart from other more traditional schools.
No longer is there a laser light show to forever emblazon our hearts with the awkwardness that is day one of Colonial Inauguration. No longer does Old Man Schenley take up court on his namesake bench and serve as a most wonderful example of the effects of sun on bare skin. And for a while it appeared that a frightfully harmless water horse would no longer occupy a well-earned place in our hearts, or at least on our sweatshirts.
Fortunately, it appears that for now our beloved hippo is here to stay, and will continue to give our school just the right amount of quirkiness. At the same time, we must take measures to safeguard other GW traditions from falling through the cracks and into the history books.
The writer, a senior majoring in business administration, is The GW Cherry Tree’s executive editor.