Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Story behind Boxer becoming Mascot

Jolley '68, OD '70 
By Jerry Jolley '68, OD '70 

Bruce, you are all wrong about Boxer……

Yes, Bruce Bishop '68,  I mean you….

Now keep in mind that no one is working harder than Bruce to make the Class of ’68 Reunion a fun event for us all. But he has the Boxer Mascot issue ALL WRONG.

Bruce recently sent me an email suggesting this article should mention the leadership role of the ’67-’68 ASPU Student Council in changing Pacific’s mascot from “a moth-eaten Badger to a brassy Boxer.” 

That part is very accurate, but Bruce went on to say that the switch to Boxer in 1968 is “important history for our class (and the entire University community) to celebrate. Who would have thought 45 years ago that the change would still be symbolizing Pacific's quirkiness?”

There it is, that word “quirkiness.” How can Bruce use it to describe our University and our beloved Boxer mascot? Okay, I will agree today’s student may think it a little quirky that in 1968, Friday’s dinners in the dining hall required dresses for women and ties/long pants for men. And maybe it was a little quirky by today’s standards that men’s and women’s dorms were strictly segregated, not even allowing coed visits. And looking back in the ’67 yearbook, the fact that Mike Staples was “Standards Chairman” and Craig Stout was “Cultural Chairman” may also have signaled a bit of early quirkiness.

But how could Boxer becoming Mascot be considered “quirky?” Boxer represented, and I trust still represents, the best of each Pacific student’s fighting spirit and stamina. Boxer represents strength, having been cast in the Ming Dynasty in about 1580, surviving the Boxer Rebellion in China and being gifted to Pacific in 1896. 

Wow, in my mind boxer still represents extreme strength. In one boxer fight I wormed my way into the center crunch to finally get a hand on him/her, only to be squashed like a bug by some bulky football player. Remember how the yelling of “Boxer Flash” on campus would get everyone’s blood boiling. And a “Boxer Throw Out” would often result in an on-campus rough-and-tumble fight which could last many hours. I believe the Thetas once even beat up the optometry students (by breaking their glasses) to gain control of Boxer in front of Marsh Hall, but you will need to check that fact with Don James at the reunion.

Boxer definitely represented strength. During a boxer throw out, you could even come in late and muddy to Dr. Reif’s ethics class and not get much more trouble than a disapproving look over the top of his glasses.
So in ’67 when funding for a new Benny Badger mascot uniform came before Student Council, we decided not to replace the moldy old weasel who had been bloodied and bruised by several recent team losses. I think it was Student Body Vice President, Scott Pike, who came up with the idea of making our new mascot the beloved Boxer.

My first stop was with Dean Charles Trombley, a wonderful man and sage adviser  who shrugged and said something like “sounds good if you can get it done.”

In retrospect, I think Dean Trombley was just very happy that I was not telling him we were planning to burn down Forest Grove city center or Old College Hall to protest the Viet Nam war. The late 60’s were a tumultuous time for our country, and many students were taking activist roles. I would get calls weekly from other student body presidents across the nation asking me to fly somewhere for a peace rally.

My reasons for staying home from student peace demonstrations were:

1) As a guy fresh-off-the-Idaho-ranch, I naively and incorrectly figured our country’s leaders always knew what was best,
2) Our student body was divided on the war, all of us having both anti-war friends and friends who had military school funding,
3) I knew the Index editors would rip me to shreds if I used ASPU funds to fly to D.C. to a protest rally,
4) I couldn’t miss work or give up study time for that next mid-term, and
5) There was a cute California girl on campus I wanted to ask on a date. (Her parents were so conservative they made Richard Nixon look like a liberal, and I knew if I trotted off to a protest somewhere, my chances of a farmer-from-Idaho like me getting a date with her would be completely dead.)

So we turned our energy to adopting Boxer as mascot. We took the idea to fraternities, sororities, administrators and other key groups for discussion. Finally the ASPU Student Council, after some heated discussion, gave us a unanimous vote to make the change to Boxer on December 13, 1967.

Members of the ASPU Student Council
Bruce, 45 years of Boxer cannot be considered “quirky” but rather “brilliant.” Even the Heart of Oak editors wrote in the 1968 yearbook, “all of us can be proud our Temple Dog Boxer tradition, and with this change in mascots our pride in that tradition can become even greater: now the Boxer can truly serve his calling as the SPIRIT OF PACIFIC.”

So all of us should let the BOXER SPIRIT move us. Let’s get together for Homecoming, October 10-13. All of you, including fellow optometry-types, please come for some fun and bring your golf clubs.

By the way, I was able to date that pretty California girl.  We married 43 years ago. Peggy Spencer Jolley and I will both be at Homecoming. Please introduce yourself and say hello.

If you like the idea that we changed to the Boxer mascot 45 years ago, when I see you at Homecoming please give me credit. If you think the change was a bad move, please discuss your complaints at length with Scott Pike.

Even though I have been giving Bruce Bishop a bad time with this article, please know that we all owe a debt of gratitude to Bruce and the other Homecoming Reunion Committee members for the Class of 1968: Judy (Engdall) Bishop, Monica (Wolf) Marvin and Scott E. Pike.

Jolley '68, OD '70 was the ASPU President for the '67-'68 school year and will celebrate 45 years since graduation during Homecoming 2013. This piece was originally used for the Class of 1968 Reunion Newsletter. He is currently living in California and practicing optometry. 

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