By Chris Casey | University Communications
DENVER - CU Denver student Cait Baxter posed with Milo the Lynx on Wednesday. Then she picked up her free T-shirt, featuring the new CU Denver Lynx logo. Next on her list was a stop at the Auraria Bookstore to browse other Lynx apparel.
A few days after CU Denver students passed referendums to establish fees for club sports and mascot programs, Baxter was unabashedly in the throes of Lynx fever. "I think it creates school spirit," she said. "It gives us a sense of unity that the (Denver) campus hasn't really had before."
In last week's Student Government Association election students approved first-ever fees for club sports (59 percent yes, 41 percent no) and Milo the Lynx (55 percent yes, 45 percent no). Beginning this fall, students will pay $8.90 per semester for club sports and $1.10 per semester for the Milo the Lynx mascot. In the Auraria Campus-wide RTD Student Pass Program referendum, students also approved the per-semester fee (not to exceed $77) for continuation of bus and light rail passes.
Scenes from SGA's T-shirt giveaway:
Aaron Wilson, CU Denver club sports director, said the club sports fee will help teams pay for field and facility practice space, equipment and trainers, as well as administration of the burgeoning program. Club sports, launched recently by a group of students with a passion for their sports, has already grown to eight teams with more expected next year.
Without a fee mechanism, Wilson said, the per-student cost to rent practice and competition space would not be sustainable. "Financial support is crucial to these teams because we lack facilities," he said.
The club sports fee will continue each semester for five years, when it will be voted on again.
Lubna Mazin, founder of CU Denver's Cheer and Dance Team and newly elected SGA vice president, said she was "ecstatic" about the fee passage. "We have a way to unify our campus, a way to tell students we have an identity," she said. "It's just a huge stepping stone we overcame, and it's a great feeling."
While club sports debuted with men's hockey in 2011, the campaign to create a mascot goes back several years. Natalia Gayou, current SGA vice president, said the effort picked up steam with a survey to students, faculty and staff in September 2011. SGA found there was interest in a mascot and began the process of sending surveys asking for mascot suggestions.
Ultimately, students settled on the lynx. A mascot committee was formed to develop a logo and lynx costume, as well as find students to be mascot performers. Milo the Lynx was unveiled at a festive event in February. The mascot fee will go toward upkeep of the Milo costume as well as performer and coach fees.
Gayou said both club sports and the mascot will help connect students to the university. "They're going to help us maintain this spirit, this community we've been working on the past two years," she said. "We've been trying to build them up (sports and mascot) and it's going to help keep them here."
Joe Halter, director of the Office of Student Life, said the election results "show that students are looking for more than just a commuter school. They're looking for a place they're connected to, a place with a sense of pride."
The roll-out of CU Denver Lynx gear -- including hats, shirts and sweatshirts -- coincided with the beginning of Spring Fling on Wednesday. Merchandise is now available at the Auraria Bookstore in the Tivoli Student Union as well as through an exclusive flash sale with Nike-brand apparel. Go to http://www.ucdenver.edu/lynxstore anytime until April 28 for this one-of-a-kind opportunity.
Spring Fling, a festival showcasing student clubs, continues today (Thursday) with music, food and crafts in Tivoli Turnhalle. SGA will continue to give away CU Denver Lynx T-shirts today in the North Classroom.
That's all exciting news to Baxter, who previously attended a small private college and a community college -- neither of which had sports or a mascot. "Coming here and now having (Milo) -- it's life-changing, really, for students," she said.
More information on the CU Denver mascot's usage guidelines and eligibility can be found at CU Denver Lynx Mascot and the full guide can be found at CU Denver Mascot Identity.
In other results, Jordan Alvarez was elected president of CU Denver's SGA for 2013-14.
(Photo at top: CU Denver student Cait Baxter poses with Milo the Lynx at an SGA spirit day T-shirt giveaway in North Classroom on April 17.)