When a student bearing a Varsity business card with the title “Media Director” showed up to interview the UTM student union (ECSU) president Ryan Carroll during frosh week, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
That is, not until UTM’s mascot, the Blind Duck, went missing, along with the kidnapped UTSC mascot, Rex. UTM had been had.
Scarborough’s student union (SCSU) executives, along with UTSC students, had construed a plot to appear at ECSU’s office in disguise. The stunt was retaliation for the theft of Scarborough’s mascot during the St. George frosh parade.
“We decided that we couldn’t stand for UTM getting our mascot again, and in the interests of UTSC, we plotted an elaborate scheme to get it back,” said Chris Van Abbema, VP of operations for SCSU, whose girlfriend, UTSC student Lindsay Orr, masterminded the plan and posed as fictional Varsity reporter “Liz Scott” in order to get access to the mascots. ECSU learned a tough lesson.
“Nowadays when someone calls to do an interview, we have to do a background check, we have to Google you,” said Igor Masic, advertising director at ECSU.
But Shawn Ibrahim, VP of Finance for ECSU, is not apologizing.
“UTM students were too tempted,” he said, when they saw Rex, usually so well guarded, sitting unattended in the back of a pickup truck at the frosh parade.
Mascot-stealing is a tradition among rival satellite campuses that has been going on for years.
“So far it’s been a very well-played game, but mistakes have been made, and ECSU will undoubtedly rise to the challenge,” said ECSU executives.
Although both student unions argue that the rivalry is harmless and friendly, there has been the occasional unfriendly confrontation.
“There have been incidents in the past where students from rival campuses have had to be split up by the SAC Blue Crew because fist fights have erupted,” said Ibrahim.
There have been efforts, especially this year, to defuse the rivalry between the two unions. UTM’s 150 frosh leaders even went to the Scarborough campus to take part in a combined frosh training session in the hopes that the two teams could bond.
Anti-UTM or -UTSC cheers were also prohibited this year, but according to ECSU execs, the truce was broken when Scarborough students began to yell obscenities at UTM students doing a friendly cheer.
“Then the peace ended pretty quickly, because leaders have been leaders for years and they know all the chants,” said Ibrahim.
“We have no problems with ECSU,” said Van Abbema, though it was clear that the rivalry is far from extinguished. The SCSU exec mentioned the upcoming UTSC/UTM hockey game.
“Rex will definitely be there. We’ll see if the Blind Duck is brave enough to show up.”
So will ESCU strike back?
“From our perspective, they instigated so we finished, or we thought we finished, until they pulled the latest stunt,” said ECSU president Ryan Carroll. “But there are plenty of plans, and the year is not over yet.”
–With files from Kevin Wong