A Cornell student alleges that in tryouts for the school’s mascot, generally known as the Big Red Bear, students were told that the animal should behave like a heterosexual man.

According to an article by JinjooLee in the Cornell Daily Sun:

Last month, Samuel Naimi ’16 attended tryouts for the Big Red Bears Club, which recruits volunteers to be the Big Red Bear, Cornell’s mascot. But what club members said at the tryouts soon made Naimi, who prefers to go by the pronoun “they,” realize they might not fit the role.

The Big Red Bear must always act like a “heterosexual man” and “approach only women,” one of the members of the Big Red Bear Club said at the meeting, according to Naimi.

The members were explaining what the mascots can and cannot do in costume, which included restrictions such as not holding babies, according to Naimi. The comment that the mascot must act like a “heterosexual man” made them feel “extremely uncomfortable,” Naimi said. “They’re supposed to be representing the diverse Cornell community.”

I had actually never really thought about this before but, yes, while the Big Red Bear is actually sort of an asexual figure, he does do a lot of flirting with women. This is true of mascots in general.

This is despite that fact that a bear is not, after all, a heterosexual guy; he’s a bear. Apparently bestiality is no problem.

Then again, the original use of the bear at Cornell events was apparently a live black bear named Touchdown, who first appeared at football games in 1915. This is arguably much worse.

The Big Red Bears Club, which recruits volunteers and selects the mascot every year, released a statement saying it “by no means sets a standard for gender or mannerisms of the bear.”

Note: From 1935 to 1939 the Cornell mascot, Touchdown IV, was a live female bear.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer