Inside the furry suit: Lexington Lynx

Lexington Lynx as a straphanger on his way to graduation. / Provided
Lexington Lynx as a straphanger on his way to graduation. / Provided

College mascots usually spend their time gearing up crowds to cheer on a sports team. Lexington Lynx, the mascot of the City University of New York School of Professional Studies, doesn’t have an arena to inspire, but he doesn’t let that get him down. The beloved Lynx, played by Anthony Sweeney and four other CUNY staffers, can be found at student events as well as online, where he seeks to grow the sense of community at a school with thousands of far-flung students.

I hear that Lexington Lynx is a new addition to the CUNY community. What’s that like?
Yes, Lex is very young. Actually, Lex was created by the students and selected through a competition. He was born in 2011, so his presence and personality are still developing. I think people like that he’s a ferocious lynx — he’s kind of a wild, untamed beast. He’s not your snuggly feline that people like to watch on the Internet.

Where can students go to see Lex, if not at sporting events?
Well, Lex can often be found studying at our library at Baruch’s campus or in our study room, but he’s been known to go down into Herald Square and walk around. We brought him to Penn Station, we’ve brought him to things like the Komen breast cancer race in Central Park. He becomes our rallying point — he walked with the walkers. He’s something that our students can identify with.

What kinds of events does he attend, and how is he received?
For the last academic year, he showed up at any event where students gathered. He was a huge hit at graduation, actually. We thought he was going to be a hit with our students’ families, but he was actually a hit with our students. Our students’ average age is around 35, so to be with Lex and have our adult students really wanting pictures with him and wanting to show him off felt kind of amazing.

Is there any mascot rivalry with other schools?
Oh yeah, there’s some friendly competition. When I get together with my counterparts at the other CUNY schools, there’s a lot of mascot-envy from other schools that actually have sports teams.

CUNY’s SPS is a pretty nontraditional place as far as college mascots go.
Right — we don’t have a campus, we don’t have a quad, we don’t have an athletics team. Many of our students are online; they may not set foot into one of our physical classrooms. Lex was created with the idea of having him be a center point of our community.

So what’s next for Lex?
I think Lex’s online presence is going to grow and start to be animated. He’ll pounce on you, he’s a really big nerd. He’s not afraid to play hard at all. In fact, he loves to play hard and study as hard as he plays. I think Lex is the biggest cheerleader for the success of our students. He’s there to make them laugh, to remind them of deadlines and to support them. He’s still figuring out how our students best need support — that’s his biggest job.


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