Slugs around the world
During my travels, it never fails that people notice the banana slug on my UCSC lapel pin (I have one on every jacket I own). I've had people come up to me in airports and greet me like we're old friends, saying "The Banana Slugs! You're from UC Santa Cruz!" More often, though, I get quizzical expressions and inquiries from people who don't recognize our iconoclastic mascot. I love to explain the history of our beloved mollusk, which our campus staff writer Dan White did a fabulous job of capturing online last year.
What appeals to me about our mascot is that it says we're a little counterculture, we're willing to take our own path, and we're willing as an institution to do things in new ways. Those are all hallmarks of our campus, from the college system and narrative evaluations to the game-changing contributions of our faculty in a wide variety of fields. I think that’s why our mascot appeals to students, staff, faculty--and our alumni, of course. It's a symbol that goes beyond athletics and speaks to the heart of who we are. That we are willing to identify with a banana slug says that we think about things differently. That's why I like it.
And it's amusing, of course. I like that, too.