Mascot should find new ways to reinvent itself

John Troyer

In recent days, an important and vital debate has taken shape in the hallowed pages of The Minnesota Daily. Many readers of the popular press might think I am alluding to the question of gun control laws in Washington, D.C., or perhaps even the United Nation’s debate on the use of force against Iraq. While these topics might be important to some people, the truly pressing issue of the day on the University campus is whether Goldy Gopher is gay. Not only gay, but also here, queer and proud. In the many years I have walked across the always-under-construction University campus, I have rarely seen more ink spilled over a clearly ridiculous situation meriting little more than boisterous laughter. “Who cares about anything involving Goldy Gopher?” is the only real answer I have to whether it was appropriate for the University’s esteemed mascot to appear at a National Coming Out Week event here on campus. The sexual politics of gophers, or most mammals for that matter, are really something I don’t spend time contemplating. Until now, that is.

In musing over how far I could push the question of Goldy Gopher’s sexual orientation, as well as the propriety of the aforementioned ground squirrel’s appearances at public events, I have decided that gasoline is always better than water for the fire. I consider the following column payback for all the times Goldy the sociopath Gopher came up to me on campus for a hug, a high-five or a handshake, assuming I was interested in any of the above. I am not.

Many people are distressed by the appearance of clowns, but I find the individuals in the Goldy Gopher costumes truly terrifying. They always assume I care about school spirit. More to the point, whoever wears the Goldy Gopher costume seems to think he or she can invade my personal space because I will automatically want to embrace a person in a mascot uniform. I would rather have forks plunged into my eyeballs by my worst enemies than hug an overly enthusiastic undergraduate in a furry costume with groping paws.

So, I am glad to know Goldy Gopher is out of the closet and a proud member of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. I think it’s about time the local National Coming Out Week organizers got Goldy Gopher to accept his queer identity. In fact, I’ve always thought Goldy and Bucky were up to no good when the Badgers came to town. Rumor is they both hang out in the bathroom a lot at the field house after the big game talking shop, so to speak. Besides, any mascot with a girlfriend who looks like Sally the Gopher is clearly overcompensating for several issues, the largest being a masculinity complex conveniently masked by Sally’s plunging cleavage. Now that Goldy is out, I am hopeful that Sally’s will become the newest GLBT bar hot spot in town; at least then it might be an interesting place to go for a drink.

Where else should Goldy Gopher appear to support the University? I would really like to see “Mortuary Science Goldy.” I really think it is time the students working hard to be funeral directors had their own Goldy Gopher. Then “Funeral Director Goldy” could help “Third Stage Bereavement Goldy” make arrangements for a memorial service.

I also think the Carlson School of Management should have their own Goldy or, at least, buy their own corporately sponsored Goldy just like the rest of the Carlson School building. Perhaps the St. Paul campus could have its own Goldy Gopher that no one ever saw or knew existed. The University Dining Services should have its own Goldy – underpaid, overworked and harassed by snotty kids from the suburbs. Coffman Union could as well have its own mascot, a sort of “Hoover Deluxe Goldy” sucking money from people’s pockets as they pass by on the street. If the Board of Regents doesn’t already have its own Goldy Gopher, it should create the “Rubber Stamp Goldy Gopher,” perhaps with some duct tape around the mouth of the furry beast. I am also partial to a “Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature Goldy Gopher,” which would resemble an albino squirrel.

Many people will say I am overreacting to legitimate concerns raised by University alumni complaining about how their school’s mascot is represented to the rest of the world. In the end, nothing would make me happier than seeing a “Road Kill Goldy Gopher” created by some enterprising students with access to the silly golf cart reserved for transporting the University’s mascot around campus. Periodically, the golf cart would stop to run Goldy Gopher over on the pavement.

I applaud the organizers of the National Coming Out Week festivities here on campus for using Goldy Gopher in a way I at least find interesting for a change and certainly no more reprehensible than Goldy’s ridiculous behavior on campus before coming out of the closet.

John Troyer’s column appears occasionally. He welcomes comments at [email protected]. Send comments to [email protected]