Video Edited by Roger Thomas, Viking Fusion Videographer
By Katelynn Singleton, Campus Carrier editor-in-chief and Carson Bonner, Campus Carrier news editor
Following the announcement on Wednesday, April 19, the Berry logo change sparked public outcry, with students taking to social media to air their concerns. Instagram, Snapchat and YikYak have been flooded with messages calling for “#justiceforvictor” and asking that the Viking logo not be changed. The flood of student response prompted a town hall meeting hosted by Berry President Steve Briggs, Athletics Director Angel Mason and Vice President of Marketing and Communications Nancy Rewis to give students the opportunity to voice their concerns and have their questions answered. Over the course of the hour and a half long meeting, Briggs responded to feedback, questions and backlash from students.
An announcement was made on April 18 at the biweekly Student Government Association (SGA) meeting that the college would be changing the Viking logo to something administration felt would be more representative and modern and would fit in better with athletics teams that Berry competes against.
“We want to have marks that are distinctive to us but also fit the time we’re in,” Briggs said at the town hall. “In 1997, we developed the Viking head, so it’s distinctive to Berry, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we should have it for another 25 years. There were helmets in the 70s and 80s that were then made a bit more distinctive with the heads. This would be a change just like that.”
According to Briggs, in 1997, when the Viking logo was made official, Berry’s athletic department underwent other unifying changes. Up to that point, four of the ten athletic teams were not named the Vikings, but following the unification all teams were renamed the Vikings.
In addition to changing the Viking icon, the Berry “B” font will be changed across all mediums, such as merchandise, athletic uniforms and flyers or pennants. At the town hall, Briggs showed an image from the original email that showed current typography on the various uniforms.
“You can see there’s a need for consistency, so what we want is unified typography and also a logo across the board,” Briggs said. “We want something that will represent us and will be completely original to us.”
Briggs and Mason received very little feedback about typography and font, making it clear that students were not at the meeting to give feedback for it as much as for the Viking logo.
“I don’t really care about the stuff with the font. I would say we shouldn’t change the logo at all,” freshman Grant Drewek said. “It’s the logo we all know as a school. We all recognize it.”
One student was met with a round of applause after saying that everyone agrees the Viking should in no way be altered, saying it was the equivalent of the University of Georgia changing their mascot.
“The thing is, we’ll still be the Vikings,” Briggs said. “That’s not the question we’re asking here. It’s the image that we want to represent that we’ll be changing. Nothing about our identity is changing.”
Students raised concerns that the change is a political statement rather than a reflection of school pride, with Briggs citing a desire to have female athletes not represented by a male logo.
“It is not a political statement,” Briggs said. “That’s the other [misconception] I’ve heard. It’s just that we’re trying to do what is a good design for the future. Retro is fine, but we’re trying to look at what people are doing, and we also want to be attentive to what will be a good design in the 2020s. I invite people to go look at some of the best D3 athletic teams in the country and look at that.”
Female athletes and students alike at the meeting said that they were not only entirely unoffended by the logo being a male, but they were also confused by the fact that they were being told by Briggs that they were not being represented equally with the current logo.
“I think women will find empowerment no matter who or what represents us” freshman Scarlett Biggers said. “This whole ‘logo being sexist’ thing is just another instance of a man trying to win a battle for us we weren’t even fighting.”
On Friday, the Office of the President sent another email addressing the change. The email included frequently asked questions, and their answers. Two of the questions addressed concerns that Berry was trying to be politically correct by changing the logo.
One of the questions, “Isn’t Berry just falling into line with woke political trends? Are we trying to be like everyone else?” had this answer,
“Few colleges (or professional teams for that matter) use “personifications” (images of a person) to represent their athletic brand. It is difficult to represent any diverse community of people with an image of a particular person. That’s not a political statement. It does align with Berry’s enduring commitment to foster a “culture of belonging.”
Another email question addressed the concern that if women athletes are comfortable with the current logo, why should the president, who is male, overrule that. The response was that “Any president (man or woman) should want an image that is broadly representative of Berry students.”
Friday’s email also addressed student concerns regarding their tuition being spent on the replacement. Several students at the town hall were concerned that their tuition was being spent on rebranding rather than addressing mold concerns in residence halls.
One student asked why the administration did not reach out to the art department to have them collaborate and create a new logo.
“It requires a level of professional sophistication that we would love our students to,” Briggs said before being drowned out by students reacting. “People have been doing this for 20 years and designed a hundred logos. They’re in a more professional spot than our students”.
Brigg’s response earned gasps from students. Several students asked if Berry was not providing a quality education.
Mason made a point of clarifying what the students’ role in the decision making was, especially following this question.
“What we’re asking for is student input in the design itself,” Mason said. “I want to say this in the kindest and most honest way possible given the situation, but some decisions aren’t made by students. The decision to change the logo was up to administration, but we by all means want student input in terms of the design.”
Students wanting an opportunity to give input to the logo design have the ability to do so by sending in designs to an email specifically designated to the process. Until the end of May, students can contact those working the project at email@example.com. The email sent on Friday stated that ideas sent to the email will be shared with the creative team, and that “students who generate ideas of interest will be invited into this process.”
According to Dean of Students Lindsay Taylor, if students were not upset and were in some way unresponsive, that would be an issue, as the emotion behind the reaction conveys pride in our school’s identity. She said that the town hall meeting, while productive, could have resulted in different student responses.
“If there wasn’t any of that, we’d probably have a problem in a different way,” Taylor said. “With that being said, this was one of the one time that felt a little like there could have been a better way to handle [how students were responding]. But we saw in terms of student response Monday that students have been learning for the last four years how to challenge, how to question, and I think one of the things I saw Monday was students exercising that but not quite perfecting how you do that.”