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Opinion: Yes, True Blue is a beaver — but he should be a squirrel

The missed opportunity of affirming True Blue’s ‘squirrelhood’
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We should feel represented by our trusty mascot. COURTESY OF THE VARSITY BLUES
We should feel represented by our trusty mascot. COURTESY OF THE VARSITY BLUES

As U of T students, we can all take some level of theoretical comfort in the idea that there’s a blue anthropomorphic animal with long teeth looking out for us — dancing next to sporting events, cheering us on, and offering us moral support through our academic, professional, and social follies. Admittedly, my grasp on mascot duties  — like, I assume, the mascot itself — is somewhat fuzzy. 

Officially, True Blue is a beaver. However, an opposing theory has been gaining ground: the idea that True Blue is a squirrel. This is perhaps based on his buck teeth and vaguely bulbous tail, and quite possibly also on the fact that squirrels are a far better reflection of U of T’s spirit, from their tendency to live in urban and suburban environments to their cramming skills.

First off, it’s hard to deny that squirrels are ubiquitous on campus — certainly far more so than beavers. Dear reader, if you’ve been to any or all of U of T’s campuses, please try to recall: how many squirrels have you encountered? How many beavers? I’d guess the former number is higher. 

That might seem like it would make squirrels too pedestrian a mascot, but I’d say it actually makes them more relatable. U of T squirrels are a constant presence on campus: whether they’re the overly friendly types that swarm you with tickly tails the second you sit down on a bench at St. Michael’s College or the flighty types that retreat into the Mississauga trees when you walk by, there’s seldom a day that goes by without a fluffy little pest waving a tail at you.

And pests they may be, but squirrels are definitely resourceful! They store their food away in places they’ll remember by the landmarks, and they use their tails to balance themselves on top of all sorts of tricky surfaces. There’s definitely some more elaborate studying metaphor there, but it’s buried deeper than a squirrel’s cache.

More than that, squirrels represent some of the things that we as a student body aspire to: as previously mentioned, they’re good at cramming stuff into their heads, and they’ve got the kind of environmental impact that a lot of us want our school to live up to. Squirrels are great at accidentally planting new trees! Rather than building elaborate stick structures like some larger rodents I could name, they help keep our campus full of greenery. Isn’t that nice of them?

While True Blue may, sadly, not be a squirrel, that doesn’t mean that we can’t keep the essence of a squirrel in our hearts as we continue making the best of our less-than-ideal circumstances by trying to balance work and fun, storing the knowledge we need so that we’ll be able to get at it later, and hopefully leaving the world a little bit better than we found it — even if only as an accidental byproduct of forgetting some nuts.