Pomona College Magazine
Volume 41. No. 2.
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Pomona College Magazine is published three times a year by Pomona College
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Online Editor: Mark Kendall

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Editor: Mark Wood
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Cecil the Sagehen is a character with a multi-faceted personality. At athletic games, he's the energized, crowd-pleasing mascot who dances for the fans. At Class Day, he's a more subdued, approachable species of bird. Other times, he's sharp and opinionated, contributing views to The Student Life. Who is this mascot, and what can be made of his many faces? Senior Associate Dean of Campus Life and Director of Student Programs Frank Bedoya, who's been responsible for Cecil since 1991, sheds some light on the mystery.

Who is the person behind Cecil?

It's so funny because no matter who's in the costume, the question always comes up-'Who is Cecil?' And my response is usually, 'Well, Cecil! He's Cecil. What do you mean, who is Cecil?' I will stay with it, and it's funny because there are times when I've been in the costume, and I never let anyone know that it was me.

There was a picture in the Pomona College Magazine with Cecil's head off (PCM Fall 2006), and I was like, "Oh my God, what are you doing?" I remember thinking "You're not supposed to do that." But that's a really good example, I think, of the less serious side that people take here at Pomona. We do it very differently.

So are you Cecil?

Cecil is a secret. I have been known to wear the costume at events. I would say that my role as Cecil has been when we needed a Cecil, and we haven't been able to find a student to do it. I've done it for Class Day, which is usually at the end of the year in May, when it's really hard to find students, because they're all leaving. The majority of students who have been Cecil are seniors, and they're all participating in Class Day ceremonies. I've also been Cecil at events during Alumni Weekend.

How do people respond to you as Cecil?

"I would say that on Alumni Weekend and even Class Day, people are very excited when Cecil makes an appearance and it becomes a photo-op. I think for many of them, it's a symbol-it's a part of what they identify with here."

Have you had any unusual experiences as Cecil?

People wanting to know who is behind the costume, for one thing. Typically with college mascots-and I'd say it's less formalized at Pomona-whoever is in the costume remains silent, other than cheering-in this case a "chirping"-but there's usually no talking. Probably what has surprised me most has been when little kids get scared by the big blue bird coming at them." So who is Cecil? What's his personality?

It's interesting because I do think Cecil's personality is based on who is in the costume at that particular time and at that particular event he's performing. We had an alumnus several years ago who was very instrumental in working to get the current Cecil costume, which was purchased during the 1997-98 academic year. He was a very animated, excited kind of guy, so when he was at athletic events, Cecil was a very animated, excited, outgoing individual. Sometimes, he would sort of taunt the opposing team-to such an extent that at one event that he actually got into a scuffle with some fans and Cecil's head came off. Of course, that's something that we try to avoid. In fact, I tell our students who go out to the sporting events to be very careful about taunting or antagonizing the opposing team.

How do you recruit students to become Cecil?

Typically, they contact me. I try as much as I can to maintain some sense of secrecy in who Cecil is, but while it's exciting for people who do it, I don't know that it's really a secret at Pomona. I think a lot of people on campus know who the students are, at least among their friends.

What's the training to become the mascot?

I tell the students who actually work for our office and do become Cecil that it's a matter of being aware of their surroundings and being aware of anyone pushing or prodding or poking them. If they ever feel like they're in a situation that's uncomfortable, they should try as much as possible to remove themselves from it. I would say typically if we're going to an event or we're walking out to a particular situation, sometimes I will walk with them or guide them to get them to a contact person who's there. The way the costume is now, you can see pretty well out of it, but the old one was very difficult-the head didn't fit quite right, which always made it kind of awkward. But more than anything I tell them to have fun. I think being in the costume, being behind the mask, you really have to have fun and have some sort of energy, and that comes out in the costume, and in the animation of the character. It's part of becoming Cecil.
-Lea Hartog '07
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