The Garnet Chargers are turning up the voltage.
Three months after adopting a new nickname, Union revealed its mascot at a high-energy event on campus Friday afternoon that also featured music from the school’s Pep Band and the Nott Noisemakers, an appearance from the Union Dance Team, free food and giveaways.
President David Harris introduced Charger, a garnet-colored costumed dog to a crowd of several hundred students, faculty and staff gathered in front of Schaffer Library. The canine theme is a nod to the College’s dog-friendly campus.
“When you walk this campus, there are dogs all over,” said Harris. It’s not new, he said, noting that the history of dogs as mainstays on campus dates to the late 1800s.
“So, we thought what a wonderful way to build on that tradition to have Charger as our mascot,” he said to cheers from the crowd as the costumed mascot burst onto the library’s landing.
After being introduced, Charger took several questions from Student Forum President Lani Waggoner ‘24 and Glory Moncion Allen ‘24, a member of the women’s track and field team.
The crowd learned that Charger is fun, fierce and charged up, loves the color Garnet and enjoys high fives and fist bumps.
Charger then whispered into Harris’s ear that there was another surprise - and soon a 13-week-old red fox Labrador retriever pranced onto the scene. The puppy will also represent Union, serving as a College ambassador at campus events and in its marketing efforts. She came to the College after a careful search of breeders in the Hudson Valley and surrounding regions, and is expected to become a regular fixture on campus starting in early 2024.
“As we explored ideas for our mascot, we quickly hit on the idea of creating a ‘Charger team’ of a costumed mascot and a live dog ambassador as a way to distinguish Union from our peers and competitors,” said Mark Land, vice president for communications and marketing. “Dogs are such an integral part of the Union experience, and we’re sure little Charger will become one of the most popular members of our community. We’re excited to be able to chronicle her Union story and work with her to promote the College to future students.”
The mascot and the puppy were a hit with those in attendance.
“I love that the new name and mascot represent the history of Schenectady,” said Gabby Baratier ’25. “The puppy is cute and sweet, and representative of the friendly culture on campus.”
Before introducing the mascot and the puppy, Harris acknowledged the events of the last few weeks in the Middle East.
“We are here today to celebrate,” said Harris, “but the last four weeks have not been a time to celebrate around the world and on campus. It’s been tough times for all of us in different ways. We try to explain what seems unexplainable, but we also have to find joy. We gather today for some joy, not to forget the rest, but to enjoy one another and this piece of Union College history.”
Friday’s announcement culminates more than a year’s worth of work to choose a new nickname. The process included extensive feedback from students, employees and alumni, with more than 400 unique naming suggestions. The College narrowed the field of names to four in May, and Garnet Chargers emerged as the clear favorite.
“Garnet has been Union’s official color for nearly 150 years, and ‘Chargers’ exemplifies the high-energy environment at the College while honoring our Schenectady roots,” Land said. “We think we’ve landed in a great spot with the new nickname and our dynamic mascot duo, and we’re charged up about what comes next.”