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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Wildcat Will: need or want

April marks a year since the welcome of Wildcat Will at Chico State but is it really worth it? Photo credit: Janette Estrada

This April marks a year since the welcome of Wildcat Will at Chico State.

Initiated in 2008 when a group of university students pitched the idea to the Associated Students representatives, it was to become a symbol of pride and unity.

Under the belief that this seven-foot-long, 1,500-pound bronze statue would make future students at Chico State feel at home, Wildcat Will was put in the works.

As noted by the University, “the project began in 2010 when students advocated for a wildcat statue as a symbol to promote school spirit characterized by respect, confidence, and commitment.”

Since then, there has been a sequence of events that prompt me to question its presence on campus. One of the most prominent issues regards its funding.

The total cost of the project was $145,000, all paid by collaborative donations from the Alumni Association, Associated Students, the athletics department and the University.

Here are the contributions:

Alumni Association: $55,000

Associated Students: $50,000

Athletics Department: $15,000

University funds: $25,000

It was immediately clarified that none of the funds used in the construction came from student tuition or state funding.

While I understand the purpose of installing a statue was to start a new tradition and encourage student pride, the result has been counteractive.

Wildcat Will has become an icon for all the wrong reasons.

In the past year, students and others have been paying homage to the statue in blasphemous ways. It is the center of attraction for vandalism by drunk individuals who defeat the purpose of its meaning.

Individuals climb, hump, and, in a recent trend, make out with the statue. Hm, interesting.

I would like to question whether the University considered an outcome of this sort. Of course, there is no right way to measure success, but I am confused by the extreme “donations” of money put into the statue with visibly no importance.

The Chico State Alumni Association donated money from an existing account intended for the overall beautification of the campus. Yet, I believe there are more cost-effective ways of benefiting the Chico State community. For example, fixing the terrible on-campus lighting students have been demanding.

Money should be invested in the actual education of students who take real pride in their work. Not in building a big happy statue, so you can take pretty photos of it for your website and marketing pamphlets, all while hiding serious campus issues behind a bronze statue.

Take the sports department, one of the most funded departments on campus. What does a statue do for it? Please do not tell me that the rise of tuition to fund your department was donated to this project.

Once again, the University has gone against the needs of students.

For a second I believed the only person benefitting from this whole situation is the commissioned artist, Matthew Gray Palmer. Having $145,000 in-pocket must be nice, right? Wrong, I cannot imagine how offending it must be to have a piece of art be messed with in such a degrading manner.

We are all losing.

In a town known for partying, the locality is poor. The Wildcat statue is located between Chico’s two most popular bars: Madison Bear Garden and Riley’s. The walking distance from one bar to another leaves so much room for poor behavior.

Was $145,000 worth a token of this kind?

If this is the result of a one-year span, what can we expect in the future?

Janette Estrada can be reached at [email protected] or @Jane_11e on Twitter.

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