In defense of the bear statue and its generous donor

There are all sorts of traditions at those schools that have been around for centuries. Mercer has been around for almost 200 years, and the most time-honored tradition we have is every freshman climbing the tower. We’ve seen the addition of several great things as of late.

With the move of Greek Row to its current location due to the construction of the University Center, the “Running of the Hill” on bid day for the fraternities and sororities has taken on the status of a Mercer tradition. When that once-a-year snowstorm hits, you see half of campus take mattresses, cafeteria trays and other makeshift sleds for the highly enjoyable ride down UC Hill. Other traditions that most students get to enjoy are the interacting with various Maconites who traverse campus to get from one side to the other or taking the trolley downtown.

Moreover, when some students turn 21, they will trudge right across the street to Mercer Village to grab a drink in a total affront to the “dry campus” rule. These small traditions and universal actions aren’t meant to be downplayed.

In fact, the memories I have from both watching and partaking in these events are some of my best memories. They go hand-in-hand with J-Flo’s falling-down lay-up to beat Jacksonville 72-71 on a Sunday afternoon, and with walking back from the library one night only to see fireworks light up the sky over the baseball field.

Many will call what I’m about to say illogical and foolish, an idealist’s dream. Football is coming the year after I graduate. I can’t wait to come back as an alumnus and tailgate before the Bears take the field for the first time. I can’t wait to see the Bronze Bear become a focal point for this as we move forward. I want to see our athletics programs embrace this.

In fact, the men’s lacrosse team has taken to touching the statue after every game, demonstrating that new traditions are taking hold. Other statues adorn campuses everywhere, from the John Harvard statue at Harvard to Jesse Mercer sitting on a bench here on our quad.

Plenty of people pose with Jesse Mercer when they graduate, which is another time-honored tradition. These are focal points for Kodak moments and pranks throughout the years. Aren’t you waiting with baited breath to see who has the balls to prank the Bronze Bear first?

I know I am. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I just want the entire campus to embrace this epically awesome statue. Despite me being very pissed off one morning at 5 a.m. when the statue was installed, I loved the end result.

You might claim that the money could have been better spent somewhere else. You know what, you’re right. This crappy economy means that every penny spent should be carefully scrutinized and put toward the best possible use. However, who are we to declare the generosity of our benefactor foolish?

If he wants a bear statue that’ll strike fear into the hearts of our opponents, then let the eccentric millionaire do it. I would love to meet him. I’d gladly shake his hand. I mean, he convinced Mercer to do this. That’s pretty awesome. Now, can someone help us out and pay for the repairs of the Mercer car? It’s awesome, but it needs a lot of work.

I’ve been fortunate enough to ride around in it during Homecoming, and it’s a tradition that I think should be continued for football. Drive it on the field! Also, let’s model Toby on the statue.

That would be awesome and scary. But if you think all this money for school spirit is a waste, then transfer and attend a school that is reliant upon a large athletics program for money to function. You know the focus is athletics, unlike Mercer. But really, who hates the bear?

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