Who gets to be a Bobcat?

Two years ago, MSU was not on the scene of Men’s Collegiate Rugby. Now, 30 to 35 students travel weekly to compete across the Northwest, matched up against squads from schools such as Idaho State or Eastern Washington. As the only 1-AA collegiate rugby team in Montana, the club is now “an advocate for MSU, recruiting and enrolling students,” according to club advisor Ed McKenna. Yet under current university policy, the rugby team cannot use the Bobcat logo.

Registered student organizations (RSOs) can use the name and logo of the Bobcats for on-campus events. Thus, this policy precludes club sports which compete at an intercollegiate level from being Bobcats although various club sports, including cycling, hockey and lacrosse, have requested and been granted special permission to use the Bobcat name and logo. In June 2013, rugby team applied for permission to use the team name and received it, yet at a later time during the summer the permission was revoked with no explanation, according to McKenna.

The process for gaining logo use is not standard and in the past has not needed to be. However, with rising numbers of student clubs (205), specifically club sports (29), current university policy is underdeveloped. Beginning Sept. 23, a taskforce of representatives from pertinent offices across campus will meet to update the policy on the use of the university name and logos by RSOs. This new policy will be passed on to the University Council, who will make a final decision. This task force includes one student voice, ASMSU representative Christina Macy, along with Dean of Students, Matt Caires.

Unfortunately, “Rugby was caught in the middle of this Bobcat logo policy update,” said Mandy St. Aubyn from the Office of Activities and Engagement. Because rugby requested use of the Bobcat logo in June, they have no legacy of using it; thus, their eligibility for logo use was placed on hold until some policy decision can be reached, according to MSU Marketing.

McKenna argues that the use of the name and logo by RSOs unifies MSU, “The one thing connecting faculty, administration and students is that we’re all Bobcats, and we should all be represented by one logo.”

Caires supports RSO use of the name and logo because MSU’s peer institutions, including the University of Montana, University of Wyoming and Washington State, have similar policies.  Caires said, “When our rugby team lines up against the University of Idaho, why would we have a different policy, saying you can’t be Bobcats, but you can be Vandals?”

ASMSU President Lindsay Murdock offers a different perspective. “The more we use the Bobcat logo, the more MSU gets press… is it good press or bad press?” Murdock said.

However, Drew Cardoza, president of the Cycling Club, who is currently allowed to use the Bobcat logo, does not foresee that problem. “When you wear the logo of MSU, you wear it with pride… Definitely the last thing you want to do is hurt the reputation,” Cardoza said.

This type of student accountability is the outcome Caires hopes for from the task force meetings. “The dream is for a policy to be created and enforced by a lower-level governance body,” according to Caires, a governing body that could include students. “I see student clubs raising the bar on student clubs,” Caires said.

Students are encouraged to voice views on this issue to Macy, the ASMSU representative on the task force. She may be emailed at christinamacy101@gmail.com. Additionally, after the committee develops a policy, the University Council will post it on their website for a month, at which time people are welcome to comment on the policy before its approval.