Change is on the horizon for Gaucho mascot

The question around campus is will the college’s mascot be modified. (Illustration by Oliver Yu)

Leif Kemp

Like a game of hot potato, the process of choosing a new image for our school mascot seems to be too hot for anyone to grab hold of long enough to make a decision, even after a full year.

The issue of our much maligned college mascot has crept up every so often throughout the years. However, until the Saddleback College Associated Student Government drafted a resolution in April 2010 to modify the college Gaucho, the controversial issue always seemed to fall off the radar.

The controversy stems from the fact that in its current cartoonish depiction, the Gaucho is not an accurate representation of the rugged Argentine cowboy known to live off the land in the treacherous highlands of Pampas and Patagonia. That Gaucho was known to be an ideal soldier that lived off the land, and was a brave warrior. Those are not the descriptions one hears when discussing the current logo.

A Canadian graphics design firm that specializes in re-branding efforts has been commissioned to provide the marketing committee with four logo modifications to choose from. According to McCue, Saddleback has paid $2,500 to date. Requests to see artist renderings went unanswered.

After Classified Senate declined to take action on the resolution, the Academic Senate subsequently approved the legislation late that month.

Once approved by the Academic Senate, the measure was then taken up by the Consultation Council, consisting of President Tod Burnett, deans, and presidents of both the Academic and Classified Senate.

With Consultation Council approval, the measure was then forwarded to the marketing committee headed by Saddleback College Director of Public Information and Marketing, Jennie McCue.

What all this means, is that despite the sluggish nature of the process, Saddleback College will soon have a new image to present to the community.

Michael Duarte of Digital University, a Mission Viejo based provider of entrepreneurial curriculum, states that typical re-branding efforts cost anywhere from $30,000-$40,000.

“Typically the process involves a design firm providing a client what they call first comps or comparisons,” Duarte said. “After the client chooses which comp they want, the firm charges the client an additional fee to take the choice and run with it.”

It is unknown at this point what the college budget is for the re-branding effort, but this money is apart from the replacement of uniforms for the athletic department as well as the repainting of walls on campus, and replacing college merchandise.

There are approximately 12 Gaucho logos that would need to be repainted around the campus, as well as foam padding at both ends of the basketball court that would need to be replaced.

While discussing the four options at a January marketing meeting, Assistant Athletic Director Jerry Hannula, interjected that since the athletic department will bear the brunt of the changes, it would be prudent to get the consensus of the department staff before coming to a decision.

Hannula said that it is unknown how much it will cost to change out the old mascot with the new.

Saddleback College ASG President Melissa Fenerci and Ambassador of Student Diversity Council Sara Ghanbariami, have another idea altogether on finding a solution for our new Gaucho caricature.

“We would like to see the college utilize the resources that currently exist to find a solution,” Fenerci said. “We are putting together a plan to enlist the services of Saddleback College graphics design students to present their options to the students and faculty of Saddleback College for a vote.”

Under the plan, the graphics design department will hold a contest for students to present their best work. The department would narrow the choices to a select few, and at that point, it would be put to a vote.

Both Ferneci and Ghanbiarami feel this approach allows for the students to become part of the process.

In a recent survey, Saddleback students agreed with the sentiments of the ASG officers. The student body feels they should be included in the process of choosing the new modified representation of the Gaucho mascot.

“We feel this would make it a shared process between the administration and the students,” Ghanbiarami said. “After all, the students are the college. Without us, Saddleback becomes just a bunch of buildings.”

Christopher Claflin, a graphics design instructor at Saddleback is all for it. After learning of the alternative plan, he said he is interested in hearing more about it.

“It sounds like an interesting, innovative approach,” Claflin said. “I would be interested in hearing more details to see if it is something we could incorporate within the graphics department.”

With the semester coming to an end in short order, any solution to the issue looks to be occurring in the fall of 2011. That will give ASG enough time to fine tune their plan.

“With the current budget situation gripping our educational system, I just cannot see justifying spending thousands of dollars on an outside firm when we have our very own talent base here at Saddleback” Ferneci said.

One thing is certain, with the approved resolution— this issue will no longer be able to fade away. A new and improved Gaucho is on the horizon.