Quinnipiac logo has a look of QAnon

Chatwan Mongkol, Associate News Editor

While Quinnipiac University community members think of their institution when seeing the giant Q, people from the outside see something different. They see an extreme right-wing conspiracy theory, QAnon.

Multiple Twitter users reacted to the Q logo they saw when the polling institute released its polling results.

“Quinnipiac polling and QAnon need to just hash out who has exclusive use of this Q symbol,” @MattGlassman312 said on Twitter. “Because I am mixing it up half a dozen times a day, and I can’t take it anymore.”

Connor Lawless

Quinnipiac Vice President for Marketing and Communications Daryl Richard said in a statement provided to the Chronicle that the university is committed to ensuring that all logos and brandings signify the distinctiveness of the institution.

“The ‘Q’ logo is a visible part of our brand identity and we’re exploring the many ways we can ensure the logo is not misrepresented and remains deeply connected to our academic mission and the Bobcat community,” Richard said in the statement.

QAnon is a conspiracy theory group that supports former President Donald Trump. It has been spreading false information online on many subjects such as COVID-19, the previous presidential elections and the Black Lives Matter movement. Its believers also took part in the insurrection in the United States Capitol on Jan. 6.

The letter “Q” used to lead the movement refers to a person who claimed to be a high-level government official who can access classified information with Q Clearance, the clearance code at the U.S. Energy Department that runs nuclear stockpiles.

Although QAnon’s adherents share baseless ideas with their followers, the BBC reported that thousands of people believe in it. As the supporters are willing to believe everything, associate professor of journalism Rich Hanley said it is “undoubtedly true” that there are people who believe Quinnipiac has something to do with QAnon.

“They’re always looking for messages, for symbols, for signifiers of Q’s power,” Hanley said. “If they see a well-known, highly-regarded university such as Quinnipiac using a logo with just a Q on it, they’re open to receive that logo as a message, regardless of how false and phony and crazy it may sound.”

Sophomore political science major Genesis Iscoa said reading some of the ideas they shared makes her shake her head at how ridiculous they were. She also does not like the idea of comparing the two logos.

“I believe it may diminish the credibility of QU and the legitimacy the Quinnipiac Polling Institute currently boasts as a widely renowned institution,” Iscoa said.

Even though it is never good for any logo to be confused with another brand from a public relations perspective, professor and chair of strategic communication Dr. Hilary Fussell Sisco said the similarity is not a threat for the university.

“I think that QAnon itself isn’t a strong-enough-reputable brand that I would think would make an impact on an established university name,” Fussell Sisco said. “There’s so much skepticism about everything involving conspiracy theories, that it almost becomes questionable from the get-go.”

She said it made sense that the comparison was made on Twitter because its users would be more familiar with QAnon.

“None of the students think about it, it’s only really when these external kinds of social media things, people that aren’t familiar with Quinnipiac or don’t know Quinnipiac,” Fussell Sisco said.

Despite the suggestions for a new logo, she said the university should not make any changes.

Hanley said similar things that the university should not react because only few people know what QAnon is while fewer take time to learn more about it.

“The principles and practices of conspiracy theory, it works to get mainstream institutions like the media and universities to talk about because what that does is amplify it,” Hanley said. “To change its logo and reaction to QAnon, it, in fact, is feeding that conspiracy theory.”

Because of more time people spend on the internet since the pandemic, Hanley said the conspiracy theories are on the rise. He said once people watch a video about it on YouTube, the algorithm will work its way to show them more similar videos. The more often they consume that content, the greater the likelihood they will act on that reality and share the beliefs with their circles.

Hanley is teaching a journalism seminar course focusing on disinformation, and he said students are savvy enough to understand that the similarity is not a threat to the university’s and their identity.

“We also want our students to understand what drives people to conspiracy theories and to understand the mechanism that places people in a position to believe conspiracy theories,” Hanley said.

People who believe in conspiracy theories are suffering from some background of trauma, Hanley said. He believes that learning more about its mechanism will help students have more empathy toward other human beings.

Iscoa said she acknowledges that misinformation is becoming more concerning and powerful and she said it is not something anyone should disregard.

“This phenomenon is influencing how people interact with each other, how they vote, how they go about their jobs and much more,” Iscoa said. “We cannot just shrug it off and ignore it.”

Note: The Chronicle updated this story on Feb. 20, to include the most accurate information.