It’s the face of MSU — the place that every potential freshman is taken in a demonstration of how passionate and enthusiastic Montana State University is, and it’s all a lie. Spirit the Bobcat is nothing like a real bobcat, and the university has set unrealistic standards for bobcats everywhere in erecting this statue. It’s impossible to trust a university system that can’t even be honest with us about our mascot.Bobcats are small, aggressive predators known to occasionally kill prey as large as deer. The statue of Spirit the Bobcat misrepresents bobcats in both size and temperament: Spirit is closer to the size of a large bear than an actual bobcat, and his friendly face and gentle posture send the wrong message to students about what it really means to be a bobcat.
Fish and wildlife majors should be particularly wary, considering the close relationship of their major to wildlife such as bobcats. Freshman fish and wildlife major Warryn Tilson says the statue makes her “feel cheated because the size of the bobcat statue is completely unrealistic, and the actual size of a bobcat is the size of a house cat.” She added, “I feel like Montana State University is lying to me about our mascot. I think it makes the bobcats pretty self-conscious about their body types because they’re not the size of buffalos and if the one on campus was life-size it would probably have to have been on steroids since birth or something.”
The bobcat statue is unrealistic in more ways than one. A real bobcat is furry, can range in color from light tan to a dark grayish-brown, is covered in dark spots and streaks, and often has scars and small bald spots due to its adventurous outdoor lifestyle. On the other hand, Spirit the Bobcat is covered in seemingly airbrushed tufts of bronze fur. It is clear that the face of the bobcat has been thinned, its whiskers trimmed, and its ears shaved to achieve perfect symmetry. Is this really the standard that we’re going to hold ourselves to?
As a university, MSU should promote diversity and acceptance. A bobcat would have to modify its body unnaturally and unhealthily in order to achieve the standard that MSU set when it put this piece on display for all the world to see. Exhibiting a bobcat the size of a horse with the friendly face of a puppy often gives people the desire to sit on and take pictures with the bobcat. This presents a dangerous mindset as sitting on a bobcat in the wild could result in serious bodily injury to both the person and the bobcat. It’s unfair to present bobcats as large, friendly creatures and then encourage MSU students to spend time outdoors without educating them on the true nature of bobcats. Bobcats are predators and approaching one for a selfie while in the wild is both unsafe for the person and unfair to the bobcat. Expecting that, like Spirit the Bobcat, any wild bobcat is going to be groomed and ready to be photographed at any time is just not okay, and the bobcat will be valid in their angry, aggressive response.
It isn’t too late for MSU to correct the misstep, however. They’ve got a couple options. Firsty, simply removing the current statue and and replacing it with a realistic, life-size bobcat would be a step forward for MSU as the university tries to repair the damage done by their lies and deceit. The university could even take it a step further, purchasing a real-life bobcat. Louisiana State University has its own tiger, Mike IV. Mike’s habitat only set LSU back $3 million. That’s a small price to pay, considering what’s at stake here: the integrity of the university, the wildlife knowledge of students and most importantly the mental health of all bobcats.
Their other option is to hear out the Paleontology department and really consider instating a T-Rex as our school mascot. MSU chose the bobcat for our mascot “ in 1916 for its cunning intelligence, athletic prowess and independent spirit.” Nothing could better describe the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a ferocious carnivore known to eat prey of up to 500 pounds. For a price comparable to that of a live bobcat sanctuary, MSU could purchase their very own T-Rex skeleton. Instating new mascot would provide MSU the opportunity to create new traditions, such as a “high-five the T-Rex” competition (they were known to stand around 13 feet tall). Also, instating a mascot that has been extinct for 65 million years would ensure that no animal would have to suffer the mistreatment and misrepresentation that MSU has caused bobcats. Whichever option MSU chooses would, ultimately, be worth it to their students. Montana State University wants students to know that when they walk on campus, they can trust their university to be open and honest with them.
“Editors note: this article appeared in the March 26, 2015 edition of the Exponent, the “Excrement”. The edition is the annual April Fool’s edition of the paper. All articles are satire. For questions and comments please contact email@example.com or (406)994-2224.”