By Alex Parker
August 26, 2021
There’s a new mascot in town.
If you’re unfamiliar with New York City’s The New School, here’s a description from the official website:
Since our founding in 1919, The New School has redrawn and redefined the boundaries of intellectual and creative thought as a preeminent academic center. Our rigorous, multidimensional approach to education dissolves walls between disciplines and helps nurture progressive minds.
The site heralds points of note:
- #1 most international university (U.S. News & World Report, 2020)
- #1 in salary potential for art and design college graduates
- #1 ranked art and design school in the U.S.
- 45+ graduates named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 since its inception
- 126 degrees and diploma programs
- 30 consecutive years of [Fulbright cultural exchange grants] awarded to New School scholars
- 10,000+ students enrolled
- 1,219 employers hired our 2019 graduates
Additionally, USNews.com lists the $50,954-in-tuition-and-fees institution as #133 in National Universities, #93 in Best Colleges for Veterans, and #68 in Most Innovative Schools.
Speaking of innovation, maybe The New School ranks #1 in Most Woke Mascots.
On Twitter, it hailed a brand spanking symbol.
Meet Gnarls Narwhal.
Per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “A narwhal is a medium-sized, toothed whale…found in arctic waters.”
Whether or not that status might christen a sports team “The Fighting Fish,” one thing seems sure: Gnarls envisions a sea of change.
In that spirit, the finned figure is neither male nor female.
At least, I assume that’s the case — animals don’t have genders. “Man” and “woman” are human distinctions.
Hence, the salt water swimmer must be sexless.
Either way, Gnarls may be the only mascot with preferred pronouns.
The college’s tweet trumpets, “Get to know our mascot, Gnarls Narwhal (they/them)…”
With Gnarls comes a whale of wokeness — they is “a social justice advocate and the first and only sea mammal to earn a BA/BFA dual degree from The New School!”
New Year, New GNARLS! ✨
Get to know our mascot, Gnarls Narwhal (they/them), a social justice advocate and the first and only sea mammal to earn a BA/BFA dual degree from The New School! They can't wait to see you on campus this fall: https://t.co/ZWt6o2IoCB pic.twitter.com/XRa7iAR1rc
— The New School (@TheNewSchool) August 23, 2021
NewSchool.Edu teaches history:
Gnarls was born in the Arctic depths of the North Atlantic Ocean somewhere between the Baffin Bay–Davis Strait area, near Greenland, and Svalbard, Norway. Their mother, Mor Narwhal, and father, Far Narwhal, were traditionally nomadic narwhals but were unconventional in that, while raising Gnarls and their sister, Gnash, they tended to travel beyond the waters surrounding Greenland and Norway to farther-flung icy regions like Iceland, Sweden, and Russia. This familial habit of exploration and seeking out new experiences and adventures left an indelible impression on Gnarls and Gnash and played an integral role in their adult lives.
Not only is Gnarls an aquatic advocate for social justice; they is collateral damage amid climate change:
The year Gnarls was born, data from NASA’s GRACE satellites revealed that ice sheets in both Antarctica and Greenland were beginning to lose substantial mass. By the time Gnarls was 12 years old, the Arctic home of the Narwhal family had seen distressing levels of ice loss. This environmental catastrophe forced Mor, Far, Gnash, and Gnarls into an Odyssean journey to find a hospitable alternative to their familiar frozen waters.
The enigmatic emblem ended up at “The New School, a place they said was ‘a good fit for anyone with a passion for social justice who might be a little…different.’”
The point of a mascot appears to be evolving.
In the past, such was typically an icon of battle, triumph, victory.
School symbols gave the impression they could beat the pants off the competition — they were Giants, Warriors, etc.
Cleveland’s Major League Baseball franchise recently upgraded from the Indians to the Guardians, exemplifying a softer take — an agent of defense rather than a symbol of attack.
Gnarls fits a paradigm in which mascots may not have teeth.
In fact, Gnarls literally doesn’t.
Back to the NOAA:
The narwhal…is different from all other toothed whales in that it has no teeth in its mouth. Instead, male narwhals have a single long, straight tooth (or tusk) that protrudes two to three meters out of the upper left jaw. Females almost never have a tusk.
The fish isn’t female or male; perhaps it boasts a fractional fang?
Regardless, here’s hoping the school will continue to thrive.
And to those who dare take on The New School in athletics, Gnarls is coming for you: The marginalized mongrel is going to gnaw you ’til you cry “Uncle.”
But don’t, because they isn’t one.