Ripon College to Phase Out Red Hawk Mascot in Favor of Squirrel
Ripon College announced today that this semester will be the last for its Rally the Red Hawk mascot. President Zach Messitte said in a prepared statement that “Rally will be retired during the summer, and the College will replace the bird with a millennial squirrel named Rip. Rip likes to text, make videos and take pictures of every acorn he finds and post it to Instagram.”
Some College alumni may remember Rip as the lovable squirrel featured in a series of short videos, including two popular holiday greetings in 2010 and 2011. Proponents have been lobbying for the change since late last year. Ripon College adopted Rally the Red Hawk as the official school mascot in 2011. Rally, however, has come under fire in recent months as activists have claimed Rally to be offensive to red-tailed hawks because he cannot fly.
“We’ve received a lot of complaints since January. A number of people have challenged Rally to a flight contest,” said Messitte. “And we want to be empathetic and thoughtful when it comes to the College’s relationship with local birds of prey.”
Melissa Anderson, Ripon College’s executive director of marketing and communications, said that she “understands how vital Red Hawks are to the proper function of the food chain in the prairies and open spaces that surround campus.”
“Squirrels,” added Messitte, “are abundant across campus and invoke the spirit and tradition the College aims to uphold.”
“I think it is a great change,” said J.J. April, a sophomore from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. “Squirrels eat nuts, and they are extremely playful during stressful times, like final exams.”