Isaac Jimenez noticed a supreme sense of school spirit as he watched the Scarlet Knights storm the field after beating the Wolverines 26-24 for their first Big Ten win. Jimenez, a sophomore at Rutgers-Newark, said the athletic events on the Newark and Camden campuses lack the same “essence” that Rutgers-New Brunswick has, especially since joining the Big Ten.
“You won’t see any cannons going off or Knights storming the field,” said Jimenez, who frequently visits friends on the New Brunswick campus.
Most people have not even heard of the Newark Scarlet Raiders or the Camden Raptors, he said. Even the schools’ own athletes hardly identify themselves with these mascots.
“No one knows what a Raider is,” Jimenez said. “No one dresses up as a Raider.”
Jimenez started a petition on change.org to retire the Scarlet Raiders and Raptors and make the Scarlet Knight the official mascot of all three Rutgers campuses.
“It’s time we have one mascot that will be known throughout the nation,” Jimenez wrote in the petition. “We are one University.”
The petition currently has 177 supporters and needs 23 more before it reaches its next milestone. But Jimenez said a change like this would take more than a few hundred signatures.
Jeremy Katz, a member of Tau Delta Phi fraternity and the Rutgers University Judicial Hearing Board, told Jimenez via e-mail that the concept of a unified mascot “is great, [and] we need it.”
Katz, a senior in the Rutgers-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration, said the concept of becoming “one” Rutgers stems from bigger issues, and that the focus should be on maintaining Rutgers’ namesake and gaining greater funding.
In the midst of the Mike Rice and Tim Pernetti scandals, Rutgers-Newark was facing financial woes, Katz said.
Two years ago, the appointment of Steven Goldstein, “one of New Jersey’s most powerful individuals,” as associate chancellor of External Relations, brought greater lobbying and funding to Rutgers-Newark, Katz said.
Although capital projects are on the rise, Rutgers-Newark is still underfunded.
Katz believes it is especially clear when compared to the countless capital projects going on at Rutgers-New Brunswick. Among these are the new multi-million dollar water fountain, movie theatre and luxury apartments on the Livingston campus.
Katz said the most opposition comes from the Board of Governors, who recently struck down legislation allowing the state to interfere with the rulings of Rutgers.
The New York Times recently released a map identifying which college sports teams had the most fans in each state.
There is a clear dividing line in the state of New Jersey, where South Jersey residents seem to largely identify with Penn State’s sports teams and North Jersey has more Rutgers fans. Plus, Rutgers fans are Scarlet Knights fans, not Raptors or Raiders fans, Jimenez said.
If all of Rutgers becomes Scarlet Knights, the University will gain better statewide recognition. That would benefit the University as a whole, not just Newark and Camden.
The administration could also look into how it can save money through consolidation, Jimenez said.
Camden, Newark and New Brunswick all buy different merchandise from different vendors. Jimenez thinks the University could potentially benefit financially by buying the same merchandise — with the same mascot printed on it — from a single vendor.
Stephanie Poon, a School of Arts and Sciences senior at Rutgers-New Brunswick, said having the same mascot is not likely to unite the three campuses.
“It’s more than that,” Poon said. “Especially since we have three different football teams, two that are [Division II].”
Different mascots should exist because they will make it easier to differentiate the teams, she said.
Both Division II athletic departments, Newark and Camden, compete against each other and with other regional Division II schools. Rutgers-New Brunswick, which is Division I in sports, does not compete with Newark or Camden.
Jimenez said Penn State, which also has Division I and Division III teams, has a single mascot. Therefore, Rutgers should be able to do the same.
If Newark and Camden rename their mascot the Scarlet Knight, “there will be D-3 competition within the world of Knights,” he said.
People often tell Jimenez to come to New Brunswick if he wants to be a Knight.
Even though they are different schools logistically, everyone should feel some sort of connection. Uniting the mascots would be a school spirit investment “like we have never seen before.”
“People try and hide how we’re one University,” Jimenez said. “I go to most New Brunswick games, and I love it. I want to bring that same school spirit to my school and to South Jersey, too.”