‘Wagon Project’ re-examined

November 10, 2010

by Kelly Belton, News Editor

In light of outcries over the controversial “Wagon Project” in the Student Government Association’s winter budget, strides have been taken to ensure the wagon will cost no more than $300.

According to the budget approved last week, out of the $1,500 allotted for sports promotion, $850 was allocated for an item called “Wagon Project.” The project will involve the purchase of a wagon for mascot Tech XX to ride in at appearances he makes.

Ryan Grumble, SGA director of sports promotion, said as director, he is responsible for getting the English bulldog to campus events, including football games. He said a wagon would help because there is a long walk from where Grumble parks to the field.

“I park on the SGA field, and by the time I walk halfway to the field getting to tailgates, [Tech XX] is pretty much gone,” he said. “It’s a long walk for him, and if I can get him in a wagon and just pull him around at tailgates, then you can see the mascot more often. It’s just to provide more visibility for him.”

Grumble said a previous wagon, which was used when Tech XX was a puppy, was put in storage in the condemned Jenkins and McFarland residence halls. Since then, the wagon has not been seen, and Grumble said the buildings were searched thoroughly again last week.

Believing the wagon was most likely stolen, Grumble said he decided to get a new wagon, but forgot to turn in his budget to SGA treasurer Casey Roper until the day the budget was presented, Nov. 2.

“It was around 1 p.m. on Tuesday when Casey reminded me I needed to get a budget in,” he said. “I didn’t look at any prices beforehand; I was just putting down a number so I could get it to Casey as soon as possible.”

For the $850, Grumble said he estimated the wagon would cost $400, allowed $200 for SGA signs and added $200 more for any miscellaneous costs that may come up. However, he has since lowered the estimated cost.

“Right now I have priced everything,” he said. “We’re going to be sticking around $275.”

The wagon itself costs $150, signs have been quoted at $75 and there is leeway for a potential battery-operated fan or covering.

Roper said before any money is spent, Grumble will still need to submit a fund requisition form that must be signed by Roper before Grumble can get the credit card from faculty adviser Adam Collins.

“It is important to note the budget presented is just approved. The funds will not be immediately available,” he said.

Roper said the approval of the budget that included the item shows that the senate felt it was important.

“You had a senate that recognized the necessity to preserve the life of the dog,” he said.

Dr. Patrick Sexton, a local veterinarian and caretaker for Tech XX, said

the wagon is a good idea as Bulldogs are prone to having health issues.

“Bulldogs as a breed are predisposed to numerous health problems, more often dealing with the skin and ears and upper respiratory system,” he said. “Bulldogs are a brachycephalic breed which means they have a shortened or flat face and are subject to respiratory issues associated with this feature.”

Dr. Sexton said Tech XX has not yet had any back issues only periodic problems with his ears and skin. However, he has overheated once.

“His back legs are straighter than normal, which could cause problems with his back later,” he said. “His biggest problem is his endurance.”

Dr. Sexton said long walks and lots of exercise are not something the dog handles well, and the conformation of his upper airways prevent this from really being improved upon.

SGA president Emily LaFleur released a statement on the issue Nov. 4, saying previous mascots have had health concerns, and it is in the SGA’s interest to support endeavors to alleviate any ailments Tech XX may face.

“The SGA is trying to be proactive and pursue means of lengthening our mascot’s ability to represent Louisiana Tech University,” she said. “Funds have been allocated for this important project in case alternate funding cannot be acquired. We are now planning to reach out to other student groups that value our mascot’s health.”

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Roper announced that the Interfraternity Council has pledged to donate $50 to the cause. He said the SGA hopes for similar results from both Panhellenic and National Pan-Hellenic councils.

E-mail comments to keb029@latech.edu.