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Lumberjack Survives Vote to Ax University Mascot

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The burly lumberjack remains the mascot at Humboldt State University, easily crushing an endangered bird proposed on a student ballot as his replacement, school officials announced Friday.

More than 77% of students voting in campus elections this week preferred keeping the suspender-clad woodsman rather than replace him with the marbled murrelet, a rare seabird that nests in old-growth redwoods.

“The murrelet is a symbol of modern forestry, which emphasizes preservation of habitat,” said student body President Keith Wagner, who was disappointed by the vote. “The lumberjack is the old school: You go into pristine areas, cut everything down and then replant. A forest is a lot more than a collection of trees.”

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But many students said they saw the advisory vote as a joke, and again turned back the attempt to “Ax the Jack,” as suggested in campaign posters.

Jack had survived at least two attempts on his 61-year life as the big man on campus, once four years ago and once in 1973.

This latest threat to his reign brought a flood of angry calls from alumni, said J. Michael Slinker, the university’s spokesman.

“Ninety-nine percent of them were saying, ‘The lumberjack doesn’t necessarily represent something negative. Let’s stick with tradition,’ ” Slinker said, noting that many alumni worked their way through college with part-time jobs in the timber industry.

But times have changed at Humboldt State and the adjoining city of Arcata since Jack was conceived in 1936.

Green Party members have a majority on the City Council and Humboldt students regularly join protests of the proposed logging of the nearby Headwaters Forest.


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