May I introduce to you Matilda the Harlem Goat?

For over 150 years, Columbia did not have a mascot. It wasn’t until 1910 that “Leo Columbiae” the Lion was adopted as Columbia’s mascot by the Columbia Alumni Association. Roar-ee, as a mascot, wasn’t a thing until 2005. However, Roar-ee is somewhat of a controversial figure. At the time, the lion was picked due to the royal aesthetic of the university’s other symbols. This seems a little contradictory, given—you know—certain historical events.

But Roar-ee wasn’t our only choice. During the same Alumni Association vote, a goat was offered as another option for a mascot. Specifically, Matilda the Harlem Goat. In my opinion—and the opinion of many other students—Matilda was a fair contender. She was, however, a gag nominee. 

But who was Matilda? Well—Matilda the Harlem goat was an active member of the Columbia community. For one, she was an actual goat. Her humble abode was a shack on 120th and Amsterdam with her owner. Students often used Matilda for pranks, jests, and hazing. Her legacy and life were so impactful that upon her death in 1914 she was apparently given a full funeral procession with Columbia academic regalia and a mournful song. Her corpse was taxidermied but is missing.

What has a lion ever done for campus? Barely exist as an abstract concept! Matilda deserved better treatment for her service to the university. Here’s how we should’ve honored her.

Revise our Fight Song: Personally, I enjoy the melody, harmony, and lyrics of “Roar, Lion, Roar.” So really, I just want to revise the statement. Simply make it “Bleat, ‘Tilda, Bleat.” I also think that the abbreviation of Matilda to ‘Tilda could make very clever design and symbolism where we just place the symbol ~ everywhere (the tilde!).

Occult Columbia: The Ram has often been associated with the occult. I think the formation of a Matilda mystery cult is just the weird, vaguely-Greco-Roman esoteric thing that Columbia needs. We already try to evoke classical idealism and this is another step in that direction. These could have long flowy robes in Pantone 292 and goat masks that cover their faces. And you’d see them around campus but only out of the corner of your eye. Probably get some really cool rings for being a member ngl.

Matilda Statues: There is a lot of lion detailing around campus: the Scholar’s Lion, the Lion mouth detailing on the cup of those chalices outside Low library, the Roar-ee at the bottom of the pool in Dodge, the Lions on the walkway leading to Butler, the fountain between Hamilton and Hartley. They’re everywhere. But goat statues are no less majestic. In fact, I think there’s something in them that is more grounded and homely. Just look at the image to the left!

Other Matilda-isms: Paw Print? MatildaMark. LionSHARE? GoatSHARE. LionMail? MatildaMail. The Global Lion? The Global Goat. And athletics would absolutely have a field day with the rise of the slang term GOAT. They could call us the Herd! I also think goat mascot costumes are just really funny. They’re absurd.

Goat Goodies: I hope it’s not radical for me to say a goat is easier to get than a lion. I think it would be fun to get goats to mow the Butler lawns. They already do that for Riverside. Why not move a few blocks over? Moreover, Columbia could probably get their own fancy goat to parade around campus. Maybe even have exclusive soaps, cheese, and milk that are made from goat milk. Really lean into a crunchy factor there. Maybe even therapy goats?

While we have Roar-ee today, we can still make a change. While the best time to make Matilda the Harlem goat our mascot was 111 years ago, the second-best time is now. Let’s do it.

Goat Statue via Wikimedia Commons

Matilda’s Reign via Author