The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) is known to host the fiercest athletic competition in the parts of New England where people don’t live, so naturally, each institution has a vested interest in trotting out as intimidating a mascot as possible. Unfortunately, some of these schools may have gone just a little too far in designing costumes that strike fear into the hearts of liberal arts students. In honor of Halloween, The Argus polled the Wesleyan community in an extremely scientific study of which NESCAC mascots they found to be the scariest, spookiest, or all-around most frightening. Students were given the option to rank each mascot from one to ten based on nothing but their own opinion. With such subjective criteria, we naturally expected mixed results, but we were proven wrong by a stunningly decisive ranking from the Cardinals. Here are the scariest NESCAC mascots, from least to most terrifying.

  1. Bowdoin’s Polar Bear (average Spookometer rating: 3/10)

Adult male polar bears are known to weigh over 1,000 pounds and can smell their prey from more than half a mile away. They wait patiently at holes in the ice-covered water until they can dive in and carve up a seal like a chef at a hibachi restaurant. They have mouths full of razor-sharp teeth and have no fear of humans. They also look really cute on soda bottles, like Webkinz, and apparently as college mascots, which should go to explain the Wesleyan community’s warm feelings toward this fuzzy mammal.

  1. Williams’ Eph (average Spookometer rating: 3.05/10)

There have been many iconic monsters throughout horror movie history—Dracula, Frankenstein, James Corden in “Cats”—but one thing has always remained constant; none have ever been named after an ice cream flavor. This Purple Cow has a warm and inviting look to it, if you ignore its creepily blank expression; I wouldn’t rule out this mascot being able to snatch away your soul if you look deep into its glassy eyes for too long.

  1. c/o


    Wesleyan’s Cardinal (average Spookometer rating: 4.19/10)

After all the facelifts this bird has gotten over the years, it must come as a relief to the administration that this perpetually smiling anthropomorphic avian came in as the third least scary. There’s no denying that a surprising number of schools pick this bird as their mascot, despite it posing more danger to the structural integrity of your grandfather’s bird feeder than an actual human. Of course, we can’t count out considerable bias on the part of our respondents; you grow to be attached to a costume when it helps to give out your room key during orientation.

  1. Middlebury’s Panther (average Spookometer rating: 4.77/10)

Panthers are just big cats, and cats are cute. This mascot perhaps goes the farthest with outwardly carnivorous features (Look at the teeth! And the glowing green eyes!) but it simultaneously wears an adorable bell around its neck. I’d imagine this was an intentional choice on Middlebury’s part; it really takes the scary out of the panther when it sounds like an ice cream truck whenever it tries to sneak up on you. Feline favoritism truly carried the day for this mascot.

  1. Trinity’s Bantam (average Spookometer rating: 5.37/10)

Here’s where they start to get truly creepy. This chicken is mad, and for no discernible reason; maybe it’s because he looks like Big Bird’s athletic twin cousin. Regardless, if you look close enough at the Trinity mascot, you’re guaranteed to see someone you recognize in this beefed-up bantam. Maybe they went to high school with you, maybe you know them from college…but you’ve definitely met this person, and you do not like them one bit.

  1. Amherst’s Mammoth (average Spookometer rating: 5.53/10)

This big old prehistoric elephant cousin only comes in at average on the scary scale. It likely helps that the Mammoth appears not to exist in costume form, but rather as a giant inflatable replica of Manny from “Ice Age.” I assume that, when planning out new mascots, the bright future management consultants at Amherst figured they could save on labor costs by filling the suit with helium rather than a person.

  1. Tufts’ Jumbo (average Spookometer rating: 5.77/10)

Tuft’s younger and smaller tusked mammal comes in just a hair above Amherst’s elder statesman of trunked quadrupeds. This elephant, though, is undeniably tougher. In fact, this one could probably step right in at middle linebacker for the Jumbos; given their mediocre record last year, it may even be an upgrade.

  1. Colby’s Mule (average Spookometer rating: 6.05/10)

There’s just something off with this image, something you can’t quite put your finger on. Maybe it’s the solitary blue horn, making it in fact a unicorn and not a mule. Maybe it’s the odd chuckle it’s stifling. Maybe it’s utter desperation to find a new acting gig now that “Bojack Horseman” is over. Regardless, Wesleyan students picked up on a creepy vibe from the Mule.

  1. Connecticut College’s Camel (average Spookometer rating: 6.42/10)

There’s no other way to put it; this camel is sus. This is the friend you vote out first in “Among Us.”  What’s that little dance it’s doing? Why is it glaring directly into the camera with a malevolent look in its eye? Why does it so strongly resemble the hostage video Gibby received in “iCarly?” The reasons for any of these thoughts are irrelevant; clearly, the student body picked up on all of them and made their voices heard. It’s a strong third-place showing for our dromedary colleague from New London, CT.

  1. Bates’ Bobcat (average Spookometer rating: 7.14)

Why does this cat have to have so many wrinkles? The upper part of its face is dominated by two hellishly orange eyes, while the rest of this malnourished mascot’s body consists of rolls and rolls of loose skin and fur. Be honest, you wouldn’t be surprised to see this creature hanging out as an extra with all the hyenas from “Lion King.” This hungry critter needs to eat, and Wesleyan students seem scared that they might just be its next meal…

  1. Hamilton’s “Alex” the Continental (average Spookometer rating: 8.23/10)

You’re walking down a lonely road at night when you hear a faint voice singing:

“His name is Alexander Hamilton….His name is Alexander Hamilton…and there’s a million things he hasn’t done…but just you wait…just…you…wait!”

You spin around to confront the source of the song, and to your great relief, Lin-Manuel Miranda is nowhere in sight. But then you see something infinitely more horrifying: the massive, grinning visage of America’s first treasury secretary, tricorn hat and all. Clearly, scores of Wesleyan students have converted their deep and complicated feelings toward a certain Broadway musical into a subconscious and deep-seated fear of this mascot. Congratulations, Hamilton; you have the runaway winner.


Drew Kushnir can be reached at

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