What is the history of Stanford's mascot and nickname?
unique origins of Stanfords mascot and nickname have a history that dates
back to the Universitys founding in 1891. While the Cardinal has
always been one of the schools official colors, the nickname has
gone through a series of changes, student votes, controversy and confusion.
Since 1981, Stanford has been
known as the Cardinal. Stanford was known as the "Indians" from
1930-72. As for the mascot, Stanford does not officially have one. The
"Tree," which is a member of the Stanford Band, has been mistaken
as the schools mascot, but it is not.
Below is a brief history of
the nickname, the mascot and the school colors:
The Nickname: The nickname
for Stanford is the Cardinal in reference to one of the school
colors (and is therefore in the singular). Stanfords history with
its nickname began on March 19, 1891 when Stanford beat Cal in the first
Big Game. While Stanford did not have an official nickname, the day after
the Big Game local newspapers picked up the "cardinal" theme
and used it in the headlines.
Stanford did not have an "official"
nickname until Indians was adopted in 1930. For years prior, the Indian
had been part of the Stanford athletic tradition. Perhaps it grew out
of the fact that Cals symbol was the Bear, or it may have come from
the large Indian population of the area, or from Indian paraphernalia
in abundance in the late 1800s. Whatever the origin, it was accepted
by sportswriters and gradually gained wide recognition.
Stanford officially adopted
the Indian nickname on Nov. 25, 1930 after a unanimous vote by the Executive
Committee for the Associated Students. The Indian had long been considered
the symbol of Stanford before the official vote, although its origins
are only speculation.
The resolution that was passed
read: "Whereas the Indian has long been unofficially recognized as
the symbol of Stanford and its spirit, and whereas there has never been
any official designation of a Stanford symbol, be it hereby resolved that
the Executive Committee adopt the Indian as the symbol of Stanford."
The Indian symbol was eventually
dropped in 1972 following meetings between Stanford native American students
and President Richard Lyman. The 55 students, supported by the other 358
American Indians enrolled in California colleges, felt the mascot was
an insult to their culture and heritage. As a result of these talks and
the ensuing publicity, the Stanford Student Senate voted 18-4 to drop
the Indian symbol, and Lyman agreed.
The first student referendum
on the issue was held in May, 1972, and it resulted in a vote of 1,755
for and 1,298 against restoring the Indian. The second vote, on Dec. 3-4,
1975, was 885 for and 1,915 against.
There was a move to reinstate
the Indian as the school mascot in 1975. The debate was put to vote along
with new suggestions: Robber Barons, Sequoias, Trees, Cardinals, Railroaders,
Spikes, and Huns. None of the suggestions were accepted.
1978, another group comprised of 225 varsity athletes from 18 teams, started
a petition for the mascot to be the griffin a mythological animal
with the body and hind legs of a lion and head and wings of an eagle.
The University moved two griffin statues from the Childrens Hospital
to a grassy area between Encina Gym and Angel Field. The campaign for
the Griffins failed.
From 1972 until November 17,
1981, Stanfords official nickname was Cardinals, in reference to
one of the school colors, not the bird.
Nine years after the Indian
was dropped, Stanford had still not decided on a new mascot. President
Donald Kennedy declared in 1981 that all Stanford athletic teams will
be represented and symbolized exclusively by the color cardinal. "While
various other mascots have been suggested and then allowed to wither,
the color has continued to serve us well, as it has for 90 years. It is
a rich and vivid metaphor for the very pulse of life."
The Mascot: There
is no official mascot at Stanford University. The "Tree," which
is a member of the Stanford Band, is representative of El Palo Alto, the
Redwood tree which is the logo of the city of Palo Alto. Since Stanford
University and Palo Alto are almost inextricably intertwined in interests
and location, it is a natural outgrowth of this relationship. The tree
still exists and stands by the railroad bridge beside San Francisquito
Creek it is the site where early explorers first camped when settling
Color: When Stanford
first accepted students in 1891, the student body actually voted for gold
as the schools official color, but another student assembly chose
Cardinal as the school color. A few days after the vote, local sportswriters
picked up the "Cardinal" theme after Stanford defeated Cal in
the first Big Game (March 19, 1891). The headlines read, "Cardinal
Triumphs Oer Blue and Gold."
Cardinal remained the school
color until the 1940s, when rules committees and conferences started
regulating jersey colors for home and visiting football teams. Stanfords
Board of Athletic Control adopted white as the second color.
Today, Stanfords official
school colors are cardinal and white.