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ROOMIE, YESTERDAY AND TODAY –
Roomie, Southeastern Louisiana University’s lion mascot, will have a birthday
party at noon on March 17 in the War Memorial Student Union Mall. The forever
young lion has had several different “looks” over the years, as evidenced
by these two photos, one from today and the other from the 1960s.
PARTY POOL EXPERT – Jack White, a popular star of the pocket billiard game,
will present a demonstration of billiard fundamentals – as well as his
repertoire of trick shots – from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., March 17 at Southeastern
Louisiana University’s War Memorial Student Union mall. The trick shot
whiz will also be the emcee for a birthday party for the university’s lion
mascot, Roomie, at noon. White’s exhibition is sponsored by the Campus
SOUTHEASTERN TO STAGE “HAPPY BIRTHDAY,
HAMMOND -- Southeastern Louisiana
University thinks it’s about time that Roomie, the university’s lion mascot,
has a birthday party.
So, at noon on March 17 -- St.
Patrick’s Day -- the shaggy symbol of Southeastern spirit will have
his own special celebration in the War Memorial Student Union mall.
Southeastern’s CLAWS/Pride Committee,
which is throwing the birthday party, chose a March date because the university
usually celebrates the anniversary of Pride Day during that month. When
better to honor a Green and Gold lion, the committee reasoned, than on
a day famous for “the wearing of the green?”
Roomie, dressed in sequined coat
and tails, will arrive in a decorated golf cart, be serenaded by his fans,
and blow out candles on his cake. He will also receive special birthday
greetings from Karen Soniat, executive assistant to President Randy Moffett;
Kathy Pittman, director of Alumni Relations; Luke Causey, chair of the
Student Government Association Senate; and Jonathan Gomez, a former Roomie
who will represent the students who have worn the mascot costume throughout
Master of ceremonies for the
brief festivities will be pocket billiard and trick shot artist Jack White,
who will entertain students from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the union mall, compliments
of the Campus Activities Board. Birthday party favors will include cupcakes
and lion paw decals.
So, how many candles will Roomie
have to extinguish? Depending on how you look at it, Southeastern’s First
Lion is either hitting the “Big 4-0" mark or he’s a senior citizens with
more than seven decades under his mane.
2004 is Roomie’s 40th birthday
if his age is calculated from the year -- 1964 -- that he was actually
named. He’s 73 if you go by the date – 1931 – that Southeastern first chose
the lion as the school’s mascot.
Southeastern Louisiana College
was only six years old when Elmer Sanders, a center on the football team
and a future principal of Kentwood High School, nominated “Lions” in a
special student election to choose a mascot. Sanders’ nomination was “among
many suggestions – serious and some otherwise” from which the students
selected, said “Le Souvenir,” the university’s yearbook.
The mascot was nameless until
Southeastern acquired a live lion in the early 1960s and needed to call
him something. Suggested monikers were narrowed down to “Lobo” and “Grego”
-- a play on the school’s colors. In a November 1963 election “Lobo” won,
creating a rather awkward situation: Southeastern now had a lion whose
name was Spanish for “wolf.”
The following year, the administration
came up with a popular solution when Lobo was renamed to honor Hollis R.
“Roomie” Wilson, a beloved Southeastern biology professor, alumnus and
Lions super fan who had died the previous spring.
“Roomie is the name synonymous
with [Southeastern] spirit,” said a March 1965 edition of the “Alumni News.
“It was only fitting that the college’s official mascot bear the name respected
by so many Southeasterners.”
The question of whether Roomie
should celebrate 40 or 73 years is not likely to generate a hot debate.
After all, thanks to the continuing line of lively students who don his
costume to bring him to life, Roomie is forever young.