On Aug. 25, Stephen F. Austin State University unveiled its newest mascot via Instagram. In the picture, Lenny the Lumberjack stands tall waving his inflatable axe overlooking Homer Bryce Stadium. The odd thing about this Lumberjack? Well – he's an inflatable costume.
When Lenny was first announced, students had mixed reactions. Some thought he was a cute way to show school spirit, while others thought he was creepy. SFA has carried a long tradition of having a current student be the in-person mascot for the University. So this brings up the question – why have Lenny?
It was announced on Sept. 2 that graduate student Deion Robbins would be wielding the axe for this school year. Each year a new student is selected to be the face of SFA until the axe is ready to be passed down. An in-person Lumberjack is a way for anyone to be the face of SFA. Lenny, on the other hand, presents a lack of diversity that our University needs.
While it's understandable that the University wants a staple mascot that won't have to change every year, having two Lumberjack mascots is a huge misstep branding-wise. Instead, the University could have used the beloved Twiggy the Squirrel. Not only would a mascot squirrel costume look less uncanny than Lenny, but the University has already started incorporating Twiggy into on campus branding with the new restaurant Twiggy’s Burgers opening this fall.
With the University having low funds due to COVID-19, adding Lenny just seems like a waste of money. With the in-person Lumberjack already being a fan favorite among students and alumni, his inclusion seems pointless. Ultimately, SFA needs to find a mascot they approve of and stick with it; whether it be the in-person Lumberjack, Twiggy or Lenny.