Plans for controversial wildcat statue move forward

A wildcat statue from the University of New Hampshire is being used by the Associated Students as an example what Chico State’s statue could look like. Students can vote for one of three potential locations for the public art piece through Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Associated Students.

Despite concerns from the campus community over spending and alternative ideas from students, plans for the Associated Students wildcat statue appear to be moving forward.

The wildcat statue idea was originally proposed by a group who wanted to shift the culture of Chico and push students to really build school spirit.

Graduating senior Jeremiah Wells has an alternative project idea that he proposed to A.S., which he calls “The Sustainability Lighthouse.”

Wells envisions a collaborative project worked on by mostly undergraduate students and faculty in the arts and humanities department as well as the science, technology, engineering and mathematics departments.

Wells chose a lighthouse because a torch or source of light is a symbol he’s seen throughout universities, including in Chico State’s symbol, to represent education and enlightenment.

“Some students would potentially like the funds to be used in other areas, maybe scholarships or sustainability efforts or other projects,” Wells said. “I was just thinking of ideas of how we might be able to use the funding in a way that would increase our school spirit on the one hand, and on the other hand would also be able to utilize the funds in a way people would feel that would help students. It would be educational.”

Wells wants the lighthouse to be solar-powered because that would integrate the sustainability aspect the campus values.

“I don’t think it would be too sophisticated for undergraduate students to build or design something like that,” he said.

Taylor Herren, A.S. president, said that although people are aware of Wells’ proposal, it might be too late to change the plan now.

“If you want to put something on campus, it’s a major process,” Herren said. “If we decided to change what the statue was of and go with his proposal, we would have to start all over.”

The artist chosen for the project won’t actually start the design proposals until he knows where the statue will be, Herren said.

“That’s why we pick and pay for a professional artist,” Herren said. “Because there is that much detail and expertise to it. This needs to be a quality project. It needs to be a very beautiful and meaningful contribution to our campus.”

Once the design proposal is approved, the artist will start work on the statue in the summer to put together some wildcat designs, Herren said, and people will be able to vote on the designs as well.

“I think of that group of students all the time. Like when the statue gets built for them to come back, it isn’t about me. It’s about much more,” Herren said. “But it’s going to be a really good feeling for me to see them and feel like I helped move that idea forward because that’s what I’m supposed to do.”

Chico State invited students in a campus announcement to vote on potential locations for the statue. Voting began on April 22 and is open through Wednesday.

Kristina Martinez can be reached at [email protected] or @kristinacsuc on Twitter.