LAWRENCEVILLE - Georgia Gwinnett College has received more than 400 suggestions for its mascot, officials said.
Student Government Association President Billy Johnson said entries have been submitted by "a great cross-section of the community," including students, faculty and local residents. Many of the submissions have been things that start with a G: gorillas, grizzlies and gopher tortoises.
There's still time to submit any last-minute ideas, Johnson said. Entries will be accepted online until Thursday. The submission form is available at www.ggc.usg.edu/mascot.php.
The SGA will review all of the submissions and eliminate any entries that are inappropriate, copyrighted or too similar to the mascots of other schools in the University System of Georgia, Johnson said. The members of the SGA's Executive Cabinet and the Student Senate will then vote on their favorites, and the top five selections will be sent to the students for their votes.
College President Daniel Kaufman will have the final say on what will represent the state's newest four-year college. Kaufman will be one of the few people who will have access to the results of the students' votes, Johnson said.
The winning mascot is set to be unveiled on Feb. 29.
Johnson said the SGA wanted to push forward with the mascot selection process this semester because it's important for the school to have an identity. The Lawrenceville campus is nestled between two state schools with recognizable mascots: the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Georgia Bulldogs.
Creating an identity for Georgia Gwinnett could also help get the community excited about the school, Johnson said.
"We're a new school, and we're the little kid on the block," Johnson said. "Anything we can do to get our name out there and create excitement for the college is something we need to do sooner rather than later."
Georgia Gwinnett student Christiana Weaver agreed that a mascot could help build community support for the school. Increasing the college's name recognition could also help graduates when they start looking for jobs, she said.
Weaver's daughter, Kaitlin O'Hara, submitted the first idea for a mascot. Her handwritten entry, complete with a drawing, was given to college officials before the mascot selection process started.
"My family and I chose the gar because it is a beautiful and not wimpy fish," Kaitlin, 11, wrote on her entry form. "We also chose a gar because it can be shaped into a G. We think it is a great mascott (sic)."
The idea of suggesting the gar as a mascot came about after a summer trip to the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, Weaver said. She said her uncle, a marine biologist, caught the fish, and her family noticed its long body and sharp teeth.
Weaver said her family was excited that she was going back to college, and she remembered that Kaufman said during orientation that students could play a part in creating the school's future.
"They think it's neat to have a say in my school," she said.