SGA calls on administration to remove controversial ‘Legend of the Bobcat’

William Gavin, Staff Writer

The Student Government Association is calling on Quinnipiac University to remove the “Legend of the Bobcat” from all online and physical university-affiliated locations because it commandeers Native American culture. 

After making several efforts to promote Indigenous inclusivity, the university overlooked potentially insensitive remarks placed on campus such as the legend.

The ‘Legend of the Bobcat’ plaque on Bobcat Way at the Mount Carmel campus is a remaining university-affiliated item referencing the story. (Daniel Passapera )

The Quinnipiac Indigenous people believe that the hills of Sleeping Giant State Park were the resting place of the evil spirit Hobbomock. The university changed the story to include that Hobbomock was “doomed to eternal sleep” by a spell, and his devoted bobcat watches over him and brings good luck to students. 

Indigenous Student Union President Gabriella Colello told The Chronicle the legend cannot unify the entire community because of its history.

“The legend is a story that was appropriated from Indigenous culture for the sake of marketing and rallying some definition of community —  a definition that excludes the wants, needs and well-being of Indigenous students,” Colello said. 

Quinnipiac University took down the ‘Legend of the Bobcat’ page on its athletic website on Dec. 7, after The Chronicle’s publication. (Screenshot from

The university currently has two engraved plaques next to the Bobcat statues in front of the Bobcat Den and the People’s United Center. Quinnipiac’s official athletic website also has the legend posted online

Quinnipiac renamed its athletic teams and mascot from the Braves to the Bobcats in 2001 due to its problematic nature because the name is associated with Native Americans.

Vice President for Equity, Inclusion and Leadership Development Don Sawyer told The Chronicle he was unaware that the plaques and website had still been up. Sawyer said he emailed Director of Athletics Greg Omodio to remove the webpage and is working to ensure the plaques are removed. 

The SGA voted Dec. 1, to send university administration officials a letter recommending they remove the legend from all public places. 

“I’ve had other conversations with different administrators and different people within the university about the Legend of the Bobcat,” said Jeremy Gustafson, SGA vice president for inclusion. “At this point, it makes sense for (the) student government to focus some of our efforts on making sure that it’s not on any websites and remove it from the statues.” 

SGA voted to send a letter to the university administration requesting the removal of ‘Legend of the Bobcat’ from all physical public locations. (Daniel Passapera )

After the SGA’s inclusion committee consulted with the ISU on Nov. 18, the committee concluded that the legend is unnecessary and appropriative of Indigenous culture.

Colello said the SGA should not only request the removal of the legend, but also refrain from developing a new one. The SGA should also support efforts by Indigenous students and the Indigeneity Initiative instead of making its own.

Gustafson initially planned to send a letter to members of the administration to discuss the removal process and its costs, on Dec. 2. Gustafson did not send the letter until Dec. 7. 

While this letter would recommend the removal of the legend from public spaces, Quinnipiac already decided to stop teaching the legend around two years ago, Sawyer said.

An internal discussion between Sawyer and campus life administrators ended the practice of teaching new students the legend at orientation. A large banner displaying the legend in the Carl Hansen Student Center piazza was also taken down around that time.  

In response to questioning from an SGA senator, Gustafson rejected the possibility of replacing the plaques in the piazza with any other messages, including an Indigenous land acknowledgment. Gustafson said the “university isn’t really at a point where land recognition” is on the table. 

Colello said she also couldn’t support a land recognition statement, noting that an acknowledgment needs to be supported by substantive change.

“There is so much work being done, but until this work is also facilitated by those in power at the university, it would be inappropriate to just ‘check off’ the land acknowledgment box,” Colello said.