Admissions denies the squirrel as new mascot

A+squirrel+greets+future+Illini+at+an+Admitted+Student+Day+on+March+9.

A squirrel greets future Illini at an Admitted Student Day on March 9.

By Caeli Cleary

While squirrels are an iconic part of campus, the furry creature hasn’t yet been deemed the official mascot.

After University Admissions posted pictures of someone dressed up in a squirrel costume, students began to question whether the furry creature was likely to be the University’s next mascot. 

However, a blog post by Admissions Counselor Veronica Greuel clarified the squirrel is not the University’s new mascot, but serves as a “fun (historically relevant) non-mascot personality to greet and welcome our visitors to campus.”

On March 6, Admissions tweeted a picture of a squirrel mascot, captioning it, “You might see this fuzzy creature on campus soon…” The squirrel was seen at an Admitted Students Day event and squirrel t-shirts are given to students who win competitions by Admissions. 

Name suggestions for the squirrel are being taken through Twitter at @uofiadmissions, Facebook and the Admissions blog. 

Doug Burgett, creative director for Enrollment Management, said “Oskee” was an already established name of a squirrel figure on campus, but Admissions wanted to explore other names because some may think the name references the former mascot, Chief Illiniwek. 

“It’s most likely going to be a ‘her,’” Burgett said. “Most mascots are associated with ‘he.’ So, why not a she?”

Squirrels were not as common around campus in 1900 as they are today. In 1901, President Andrew Draper and professor Charles Rolfe proposed a plan to domesticate squirrels to the University’s campus because they thought it would have a positive impact on campus life. In the summer of 1901, the Board of Trustees adopted the plan. 

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