A different kind of school spirit
By Kathryn Walters, Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
As Pilots, students are united in their school spirit under riverboat pilot and mascot, Wally Pilot.
But individual residence halls at UP also take pride in their dorm mascots, which promote hall traditions and can even inspire a bit of friendly rivalry.
"There's a certain pride that goes along with having something to represent a dorm besides a symbol or a dorm," junior and Villa Maria Hall resident David Sumada said. "It's a lot more tangible."
Of course, the Villa Maria Gorilla is probably the most recognizable dorm mascot on campus. Every Orientation weekend, the enormous inflatable Villa Gorilla is raised on the roof to welcome new students to UP and the Villa community.
The original Villa Gorilla was purchased in 1999 by residents of Villa Maria to welcome freshmen during Orientation, according to alumnus Rick Schindler, who was hall director at the time.
Freshman Villa Maria resident Joel Simard said his first encounter with the Villa Gorilla was one to remember.
"The deepest connection was when I walked the corner around Mehling, back from the Service Plunge, and one of the RA's said, 'Men, now we storm the castle!' And the Gorilla was just towering over the dorm," he said. "It was an emotional experience."
Two smaller mascots, Tommy the Gorilla and Seamus the Dog, inhabit the Villa Maria lobby. Tommy, named after former Villa Maria Hall Director Tommy Stoffel, first arrived after a resident picked him up at a bus stop two years ago, while Seamus is so old that no one remembers where he comes from.
"We see ourselves as the manly dorm, and a gorilla is one of the best ways to show that," Sumada said. "Gorillas are primal, and there's a strength in them."
A few hundred feet down the West Quad, Corrado Hall takes pride in its own dorm mascot, a big stuffed bear named Clarence.
According to Corrado Hall Director Mike Wode, Clarence has been around for at least 10 years and perfectly embodies the Corrado residents.
"We're kind of laid back, free spirited, fun-loving," he said. "In the hall, it's a good prank to find Clarence in your bed or up against your door."
Because Clarence has been the victim of many pranks, both within and outside Corrado, RA Maggie Smet said this affects how residents view Clarence.
"We have a detached and fearful affection for him because we know he's been so many places, but we're still fond of him," she said. "Unsuspecting freshmen try to cuddle with him and we have to warn them not to."
Recently, Clarence was involved in a prank with the residents of Schoenfeldt Hall where both Clarence and the shield that serves as the mascot of both Fields and Schoenfeldt Halls were stolen from their respective dorms.
Although there was some controversy because of the deep attachment residents feel toward their mascots, eventually the mascots were returned to their rightful dorms.
The Fields and Schoenfeldt shield currently graces the lobby of the residence halls. The four quadrants on the shield display two lions, to represent the men of Schoenfeldt, and two fleur-de-lis symbols, to represent the women of Fields.
The shield has now grown to become a bigger presence in the last few years, according to Alex Hermanny, Schoenfeldt hall director. It is now carried by residents to women's soccer games.
More specifically, the men of Schoenfeldt have their own individual mascot, a lion, which they sport proudly about campus on special cardigans they wear on Fridays. The lion, according to Hermanny, connects to the family of Father Arthur Schoenfeldt, the dorm's namesake. Each year, Schoenfeldt holds its Hall Olympics, and the winner gets to keep a stuffed lion toy for a whole year.
Above all, dorm mascots give individual dorms, and their residents, something to be proud about.
"I think what was the big takeaway from that was that there's an emotional attachment to the community and the mascot," Hermanny said.