In a statement released Monday, the College Council announced plans to revert Reggie the Lion back to its original name of Lucy, changing its gender from male to female. The decision is part of King’s Vision 2029‘s commitment to gender equality.
The Council stated an intent to “right historical wrongs”, stating “King’s College London has always prided itself on breaking down gender barriers”. The memo laid out a 10-year transition period to allow time to roll out new logos and merchandise.
KCL’s lion mascot dates back to 1923, during “the first mascotry battle in history” with rival University College London. After stealing UCL’s now-forgotten mascot Phineas, King’s was forced to improvise their own mascot, a five-foot papier mâché beer bottle named ‘Bottled Youth’ and supplied by King’s Engineers.
It was two female students unimpressed with the beer bottle that proposed a lion mascot instead, purchasing today’s Reggie the Lion from the Euston Road pub Ewarts Geysers for £7 (the equivalent of £416 today).
According to a King’s Alumni’s history, “For some unfathomable reason, the lion was originally called ‘Lucy’, which rather neglected the fact that with his mane and other attributes of not inconsiderable size, he was unquestionably male. The Engineers’ [sic] took it upon themselves to protect this new Mascot and suggested ‘Rex’. Finally, at a special meeting of the King’s College Union Society in December 1923, the copper lion was officially adopted as the College Mascot and with much enthusiasm was christened ‘Reggie’.”
The decision to change the name back to Lucy has received support from KCL Womxn in History Society. In an exclusive statement to Roar, the society’s VP Dr Iris Neerdeh echoed this opinion, stating “King’s College is nearly two-thirds female. It’s about time we had a mascot that reflected our true student body.
“So far, the history of Lucy has followed the patriarchal domination of the historical narrative that unfortunately is quite typical of British tradition,” Dr Neerdeh continued. “We see a male-dominated group of Engineers– a profession long-denied to women– taking it upon themselves to change the mascot’s gender– a mascot procured by women, might I add– in order to fit their patriarchal expectations of society.
“What I ask is, what is inherently male about lion-strength and regency? I’d like to see the day when these are no longer exclusively masculine traits, which is why I support King’s leading the way with this trailblazing signal to the patriarchy.”
Not all students support the change, however. An anonymous third-year War Studies student who describes himself as Libertarian described the move as “shambolic”, stating, “What this is indicative of is a general trend of universities allowing only one opinion to prosper on campus, and denying the free speech of everyone else they deem ‘politically incorrect’. Leave it to King’s, with their safe space marshals and all.”
King’s is hardly the first university to update its controversial mascot. Such changes have become common practice in the States. Stanford, Dartmouth, Miami University, and The College of William & Mary are all schools that have changed their mascots away from names denigrating to Native Americans. Other mascots have been changed due to their undertones of religious violence, including Elon University’s ‘The Fighting Christians’ and The College of the Holy Cross’ ‘The Crusader’.
Full disclosure: Roar is named for Reggie the Lion.
Reggie the Lion is a King’s College London staple, the mane event of our university, if you will. Whilst gender equality is important, we don’t think His Royal Highness will be changing names any time soon. Happy April Fools Day! Did we convince you?