The University has sought to distinguish the hippo as an unofficial mascot of the school by not restocking some hippo inventory at the GW Bookstore and scaling back the mascot’s presence at televised events.
In September, after reports that the University was phasing the hippo out of its merchandise, administrators denied that the school had purposely not restocked hippo apparel in the Bookstore, citing a “miscommunication” between the Bookstore and the University. But five months later, the only new hippo apparel in the store has been a limited-edition T-shirt proclaiming the hippo to be “alive and well” at GW.
The Bookstore was once stocked with a plethora of hippo-imprinted items from athletic shorts to sweatshirts.
Follett Regional Director Nancy Sattler, who supervises University Bookstore Manager Pat Lee, said this month that the only hippo-related items the bookstore carries are key chains, decals and the remainder of the “alive and well” T-shirts – which were created after reports of the hippo’s phase out.
“Plush hippos are on order, but it takes months to receive these from the vendor,” Sattler said. “Once the University stopped with the hippo, the vendor in China destroyed the image and now they have to begin the design from scratch.”
Sattler also said sweatshirts with the hippo logo have been ordered but did not have an estimate as to when students could expect them, adding that the “alive and well” shirts only arrived quickly because the University paid an express fee.
Nicole Macchione-Early, director of GW’s Spirit Program, said the hippo mascot does not regularly attend televised basketball games, although exceptions are occasionally made.
“[The hippo] has been to some basketball games, including the women’s knit-in game,” Macchione-Early said. “But he does not typically attend televised games.”
Instead, the hippo has made appearances at a handful of student life events already this semester, including the pep rally for the inaugural float.
Administrators from Macchione-Early to Associate Vice President of Student Academic and Support Services Helen Cannaday Saulny have said that emphasizing the Colonial – GW’s official mascot – has been a priority and that the University does not want to confuse television audiences with two mascots.
“The Hippo is a student-life mascot,” Cannaday Saulny wrote in an e-mail. “After the unveiling of the new George mascot earlier this fall, the University decided the George/Colonials logos should reflect a closer resemblance to the George mascot.” n