brown horse looking back at brown and white cow

UC Davis students campaign to change mascot from horse to cow

Dr. Frank Mitloehner unsurprised by their enthusiasm for agriculture, says that students are interested in food systems and sustainability even if the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful

Recently UC Davis students voted to change the University's mascot from Gunrock the horse to a cow. The campaign acknowledges the importance of agriculture to the school's identity. CLEAR Center Director Dr. Mitloehner is quoted in an article by Sahalie Donaldson in The Chronicle of Higher Education which details the campaign and its impetus, as well as hurdles to actually changing mascots. 

Most of Mitloehner’s students come from big cities. These students, he said, don’t have a connection to agriculture, but they do have an interest in food. They are grappling with key societal questions: Where does food come from? How is it grown? What is its environmental impact? What about animal welfare?

“All these issues are so in the minds of these 20-year-olds,” Mitloehner said. “That’s one of the reasons they come to this campus.”

Students, he said, are having to think hard about how to feed a rapidly growing global population in a sustainable way that doesn’t destroy the planet. UC-Davis, he said, is often regarded as at the forefront of those issues and as “the nexus between agriculture productivity and sustainability.”

“We are neither the one or the other, we are something that bridges these two areas,” Mitloehner said. “I’m very comfortable with that. I think that’s the place where I want to be, and that’s the place where many of our students want to be. This discussion about the mascot plays into that.”

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