Geneseo’s campus radio station WGSU was informed this semester that their squirrel mascot Genny will no longer be allowed at Ice Knights hockey games. Members of WGSU’s executive council have drafted a letter in response to Genny’s ban from the games and circulated a petition that has garnered dozens of signatures.
Genny was first introduced as WGSU’s mascot in the fall of 2017. Since then, she has attended one hockey game per semester, according to international relations and Spanish double major senior Teresa Cappiello and WGSU’s faculty director Mike Saffran.
Cappiello is the marketing director of the station and would contact the athletics department beforehand to alert them to which game Genny would be attending and to book table space in the ice rink lobby. It wasn’t until this semester when Cappiello went to book Genny at a game that she was first informed of the ban.
“In January, when I was going to get WGSU to table at another hockey game, I was told by the [assistant athletic director] George Gagnier that was not allowed because [Genny] is not a Knight and therefore conflicts with the Knight brand,” Cappiello said.
When Cappiello tried to inquire about who imposed the ban on Genny, she didn’t receive a clear answer, only a list of various departments.
Saffran explained that WGSU believes the athletics department is probably doing what they were told to do in terms of banning their mascot.
“We have a very good relationship with athletics … we do so much for the hockey team, especially,” Saffran said. “There’s no bigger promoter of SUNY Geneseo Ice Knights hockey, aside from the athletics department, than WGSU. But we also felt that it was probably not athletics. One of the assistant hockey coaches signed the petition that says ‘bring Genny back.’”
Gagnier declined to comment and instead directed The Lamron to the college’s Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Gail Glover.
Glover explained Genny’s ban from her office’s perspective as an overseer of Geneseo’s brand and image.
“What a mascot really is, is a visual, almost personification, of what an institution stands for,” Glover said. “In order for it to carry strength, it has to be used consistently, in as many public places as possible, people get to identify with it.”
Geneseo officially only has one mascot, Victor E. Knight. Anytime someone wishes to add elements alongside the Knight and the Knight brand, it can become distracting and detract from the strength of trying to have a mascot in the first place, according to Glover.
Glover emphasized that she is supportive of the ban because, as the hockey arena is a small venue, any branding material used in the space should be consistent.
“My perspective on mascots is that you have a single, consistently used personification,” Glover said. “Anything else that detracts from your primary personification is distracting.”
Shortly after learning of the ban, WGSU’s e-council drafted a letter to the various departments who had a hand in banning Genny, calling for her reinstatement at hockey games. Cappiello hopes the letter will allow its recipients to understand WGSU’s side of the situation in that they are not trying to compete with Victor E. Knight, but rather simply trying to advertise the station.
Saffran, speaking on behalf of his WGSU students, felt that banning an aspect of a student activity is not very student-centered. By banning Genny, the college is denying students a public relations learning opportunity.
“Our position is that there’s more than enough room on this campus and in the arena for a mascot representing another organization,” Saffran said.