Sammy Slug

The Banana Slug, a bright yellow, indigenous gastropod found in the redwood forest on campus and around Santa Cruz County, has not always been the official mascot for UC Santa Cruz. In fact, the University didn’t initially have formal, organized, and campus-supported athletics for enrolled students when founded in 1965. By 1980, students had made it clear there was a sincere desire for more organized and University-supported participation in intercollegiate competition. That is when UC Santa Cruz became an institutional member within DIII of the NCAA.

Institutional membership with the NCAA requires an official team name, yet for the first 15 years of its existence, the University did not have one. Chancellor Robert L. Sinsheimer gathered a focus of student-athletes and from that, made a decision to name the University’s new mascot: the Sea Lions. The new name was soon challenged by a grassroots effort by students on campus, which led to publicity in local and national media as more UC Santa Cruz students campaigned to officially become the Banana Slugs. Even after a Sea Lion was painted on the West Field House hardwood, students continued to cheer and chant for the Banana Slugs. Bronze statues of sea lions in the heart of campus were vandalized with yellow paint and antenna glued to the top of the sea lion heads to transform them into Banana Slugs. After years of relentless effort and stalemate a student-led, campus referendum was organized in 1986 to decide the UC Santa Cruz mascot once and for all. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the Banana Slugs and the rest is history.

Be on the look out this fall to participate in the #EvolveSammy campaign and help campus decide how Sammy Slug evolves into the next era!