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MIT Athletics Unveils New Logos Featuring Beavers

By Christina Kang


STAFF REPORTER


The Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation (DAPER) has three new logos, which are part of a plan to create an MIT brand. The primary logo features a sleek black red-eyed beaver zooming off toward the left, undoubtedly to meet an opposing team’s mascot in battle. All the logos and the beavers in their various poses and colors were made available on the Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation’s Web site on June 6, along with a link to an online store of clothing and accessories bearing the new emblem.

According to Candace L. Royer, director of athletics, this is only the starting point for a new brand.

“The brand will continue to appear in all of the places where athletics brands usually appear at other colleges and universities,” Royer said. “It will be on varsity and club sport uniforms, venues on the courts, flags and walls, DAPER publications, clothing.”

In developing the new brand, DAPER wanted to create an MIT athletics identity, “one which encompasses the hopes and aspirations and identities of so many stake holders, both past and present,” according to Stephen D. Immerman, senior assistant dean of student life.

After years of conceptual work, production first began in March 2004. The brand was developed by SME Inc. Branding of New York, which relied on information-gathering and focus groups consisting of students, faculty, staff, and alumni to identify what characteristics the MIT community considered important.

“I think they really did a great job of incorporating as many of our opinions as possible in the final design,” said one focus group participant, Leah A. Bogsted ’08 of the varsity women’s softball team. “I think every student athlete at MIT will find some part of the new logo that they like and can identify with.”

Head coaches of the various varsity teams also contributed their opinions, up until the design was finalized this January.

But despite DAPER’s best efforts, the logo has been met with mixed reactions from students, especially those in athletics programs. The majority of the complaints seem to be based around DAPER’s incarnation of the MIT beaver.

Kevin M. Kelley ’09 of the varsity men’s crew team, for one, feels that the beaver doesn’t even look like a beaver. “One of my teammates described it as a swimming rat with a beaver’s tail,” Kelley said.

Rajat Bhalla ’08 of the varsity men’s tennis team expressed the opposing opinion. “I’m a fan,” Bhalla said. “I think this beaver reflects MIT well with its intensity.”

One other topic of debate is the decision to focus the brand around the beaver. “We’re actually the MIT Engineers, not the MIT Beavers,” said Praveen Pamidimukkala ’08 of the varsity men’s volleyball team.

MIT Cycling member Mark B. Cote ’07 also noted that the use of the beaver tends to cause confusion because most MIT sports teams are a part of the same conference as the Babson College Beavers.

“Overall, I think the logo looks cool,” Cote said, “but it doesn’t define DAPER as clearly as I would have hoped.”

Yet another difference of opinion arises from debate on the allocation of funds.

“Why are we spending money on this?” Kelley said. “I’d have no problem putting the however many thousands of dollars we spent to better use. We need to focus on getting taken seriously as athletics, not in ‘branding’ MIT athletics.”

Bogsted feels differently. “I’m glad that MIT decided to invest the money into designing the logo,” she said. “I hope that this logo will promote unity and pride throughout DAPER and help to increase fan attendance and student support of the many varsity teams.”

Immerman, despite the objections, sees the project as hugely successful. “I was impressed and gratified by the care, respect, and completely dedication that the DAPER leadership gave to this project. I was equally impressed by the intelligent, passionate, and insightful feedback that the involved students invested in the process.”