Update, Sept. 17: The new mascot — named “Roary” — has been unveiled.
Colonial Phil is missing. To be clear, that’s a good thing.
At St. Joseph’s University, sports are repped by the Hawk. Temple Athletics has Stella the Owl. Drexel teams get support from Mario the Magnificent, a giant purple dragon. And as of this week, athletes at the Community College of Philadelphia will hear the rallying roars of a lion.
When CCP students arrived on campus this fall, all signs of its former mascot — a Caucasian drum major wearing a tricorne hat — had been erased. On Tuesday, its replacement will be unveiled in a grand ceremony that aims to break a Guinness World Record.
The event marks the culmination of a two-year effort to do away with a symbol many saw as outdated and inappropriate.
“The institution felt that perhaps Colonial Phil was no longer representing the rich diversity that we currently have today compared to the 1960s,” David Asencio, CCP dean of students, told Billy Penn.
The movement to replace the symbol of colonialism, an era of slavery and other oppression, started within the 28,000-member student body, when a petition to replace the “offensive” symbol drew hundreds of signatures.
A committee of faculty, staff and students was soon established. They voted in the fall of 2017 to not only change the school’s mascot, but to also hold a vote on what the new mascot should be and how it would best represent the school.
“There were two that came up to the top, the first was a lion and the other was a panther,” Asencio said. “Some people felt there perhaps was no need for change, but others did and so we wanted to make sure we listened to the whole community as well as our alumni.”
CCP sent a mass email to students in October 2018, asking them to vote between a lion and a panther. An estimated 1,600 students voted, per Asencio, and the maned feline won out.
Then began the lengthy process of determining what the actual lion would look like, and other important details.
“Having never been involved in something like this before, it’s a huge learning process, which has been really exciting,” said Sajeda Virji, coordinator for student life marketing and engagement.
Reached just before classes began, Nathaniel Butler, a business administration major at the college, was not aware of the upcoming change.
Though he did not participate in the initial voting, Butler said that he would have still chosen the lion as the new mascot instead of the panther. He noted the lion gives off the image of being the king of the jungle and having a mindset of pride.
“I think it’s different, I think its changing it up,” Butler said. “I know Colonial Phil has probably been here for years [but] rebranding and rechanging it to a lion kind of fits the bill of CCP having that lion mentality.”
He’s curious to see the finished product when the mascot is officially unveiled.
CCP is going all out with the reveal, which Dean of Students Asencio said he sees as an opportunity to generate school spirit. At a noon pride party emceed by sports personality Marc Farzetta, the crowd will try to break the Guinness World Record for “Most People Roaring Simultaneously.”
There was never any major controversy concerning Colonial Phil, Asencio added, as all stakeholders agreed the school needed a mascot that better represented the rich diversity and background of CCP.
“A lion represents wisdom, strength and pride, and that’s what we see ourselves as, like a pride of lions,” Asencio said. “We’re a community, we’re together and we support each other. Unlike other areas of the country where they have had issues with their mascots, this was not the case there.”