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Some want CSULB's Prospector Pete to head for the hills




CSULB's mascot Prospector Pete has been a symbol of the university since 1949.
CSULB's mascot Prospector Pete has been a symbol of the university since 1949.
Cal State Long Beach Office of Public Affairs

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Go team!

But at Cal State Long Beach, some are telling team mascot Prospector Pete, "Go away!"

The school was founded in 1949, a century after the famous 49ers came to the state looking for riches. That's why administrators at the time thought he'd be a good mascot.

"In 1949, Prospector Pete seemed to be an innocuous representation of the founding of the state," says CSULB's provost Brian Jersky.

There's even a statue dedicated to Pete on campus.

But some students see him as a symbol of people who came to California for gold, and also displaced native people and discriminated against other minorities.

"There were many laws during the Gold Rush that prevented Chinese from owning property, that prevented Mexicans from also prospecting," says Griselda Suarez, who lectures at the school about Chicano and Latino studies.

And from the 1960s to this very day, some students have wanted Pete to head for the hills.

"They were being quite dramatic," says Jersky. "On the first day of our semester, the statue was draped – a theatrical, dramatic gesture to show that some people didn't want this."

He and Suarez are part of a newly formed team looking at the future prospects of Prospector Pete.

"One of the many futures is that he would remain as our mascot," he says. "One of the many others is that he would not remain as our mascot."

It's also possible the school might update his story by placing information around Pete's statue to describe what 49ers did to indigenous people in history and the story of those people as well.

But even as some students pan him, in the eyes of others at Cal State Long Beach, Prospector Pete remains golden.