Illustration by Julia Pancova

Do you even know?

YOU’RE JUST NOT a University of Ottawa student unless you’ve been asked the following by some catty Carletonite: “That the fuck’s a Gee-Gee?” While the question can be chalked up to the ignorance of other schools on the form of their enemies, it may also be an indication of an issue with the U of O mascot.

The Gee-Gee, which is the first horse out of the gate in a race, was adopted as the University of Ottawa brand initially to appeal to both the anglophone and francophone student populations. Since the initials “GG” can be used to describe the school colours, garnet and grey, in both languages, the nickname stuck. Though it’s been decades since the horse head bearing these letters became synonymous with the U of O, many students are still not aware of what “Gee-Gee” even means.

“I did not know what a Gee-Gee was before I came to the school,” said U of O grad Katrina Medwenitsch.

While Medwenitsch may not have been familiar with the U of O mascot before she started studying at the university, she thinks most students pick up the explanation in no time.

“I learned quickly in my first year, [and] I think that most people on campus figure out what a Gee-Gee is once they start going here,” she said.

Though Gee-Gees themselves may be quick learners, other schools are not so inclined to educate themselves about the school’s image. Some even use the lack of awareness about the mascot to the U of O’s detriment.

Queen’s University is renowned for its sarcastic sports slogans such as “Wuck Festern” and, of course, “What the fuck’s a Gee-Gee?,” which have made their way onto signs, T-shirts, posters, and into chants at the rival school.

Given that confusion about the identity of the Gee-Gees mascot is the main source of criticism from such competitors, some students are concerned the mascot damages the U of O’s image. Medwenitsch disagreed, arguing our spirit speaks for itself.

“I don’t think a mascot really affects the team image that much,” she said. “Whether or not a team is a Gee-Gee or a Raven, teams that play against them know most of all whether they’re good competitors. That matters more.”

While a name like Capital Clydesdales or U of O Osprey may be more easily explained, the Gee-Gee brand is near and dear to students at this school, and many are unwilling to let it go.

“I think that once you learn what a Gee-Gee is, it’s pretty cool … I wouldn’t want to change our mascot name at all,” said Medwenitsch. “It’s short and catchy and it’s sort of neat that only people who go to our school know what it means. It’s like our little secret.

“I’m happy to be at a school that is as fast and determined as the first horse out of the gate in a race.”

—Jaclyn Lytle