employment law, trademark law, University mascots, protected class, business necessity


"Until a character becomes a personality, it cannot be believed. Without personality, the character may do funny or interesting things, but unless people are able to identify themselves with the character, its actions seem unreal. And without personality, a story cannot ring true to the audience." Walt Disney1 Mascots 2 are different animals. They bring some of our favorite characters from screens, packages, and comic book pages to life. Moreover, mascots serve a particularly important role on university campuses, offering a point of communal continuity3 amid inevitable organizational changes. Although university buildings, athletes, faculty, and staff will eventually change, a mascot remains an inter-generational reference point for fans and alumni.4 Indeed, a mascot gives a representative persona to universities, enabling those universities to more intentionally interact with fans and the community.5 But a mascot can only attain this significance by creating and perpetuating a unique personality. It must strive for a relatable authenticity that allows fans to see the mascot as more than simply a person in a suit but instead as a real, inimitable character. Stated succinctly, a mascot must create a new persona, the spirit of a university, by paying particularly close attention to its look, mannerisms, and personality across time.6