Bruin Brawl

It’s perhaps the most baffling of campus traditions. In an instant, the “flash” of a stuffed bear (“Bruin Jr.”) sparks pandemonium. Students collide in a scrum, mud often covering their bodies, in an attempt to grab the Bruin Jr. and be the first to get off campus with it.

It’s called Bruin Brawl, and it’s been going on for more than a century.

In one case, the leather bear was dropped from a helicopter. In another, a university president faked an injury only to reveal Bruin Jr. from an ambulance. The bear once suddenly appeared during chapel, prompting a stampede mid-sermon.

Check out the timeline below to see how Bruin Jr. has made his mark on campus culture over the decades.

Bruin Jr. Timeline

1890s
George Fox students in the 1890s with the original bear

The Original Bruin

Orphaned bear cub is adopted and nurtured by faculty until its death, at which point it is turned into bear steaks and eaten. Afterwards, a stuffed animal is made in its honor and the “Bruins” nickname is adopted.

1929
George Fox students in 1929 on the Senior Sneak

Birth of a Tradition

In the late 1890s, senior class students begin stealing the taxidermied bear skin from the campus museum to show it off on their class day, known as “flashing the bear.” Soon after, other classes begin to attempt stealing it, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Predictably, the bearskin begins to fall apart, so a new one is made. From that point on, flashes and brawls become the new tradition.

1930s
Two images, the left is a photo of students with the original bear skin, the right the pelt hanging on a tree

A Prized Possession

The class in possession of the bear has to come up with creative ways to keep it hidden to prevent it from falling into the hands of another class. Rules stipulate, however, that "it cannot be locked in any container, car, or any other such object, and that it not be kept in anyone's dorm room, apartment or academic building."

1962
Fallen trees and damage from the 1962 Columbus Day Storm

Columbus Day Storm

Bruin Brawl takes place during the infamous Columbus Day Storm. Legend has it that the struggle took place “amid falling trees.”

1963
Photo of Ken Kumasawa

Carpal Diem

Ken Kumasawa jumps out of a Minthorn Hall window on a broken leg when Bruin Jr. is flashed outside on the quad.

1968
Photo of students wrestling in the Bruin Brawl

Longest Bruin Brawl

Record for the longest Bruin Brawl. It lasts from late morning until dusk. Students take shifts brawling between classes and meals.

1970
Four images depicting the evolution of George Fox University's logo, transitioning from a fox, to variations of bear logos

Bruin Adopted as Mascot

Bruin nickname officially adopted as our mascot. Shown here is the evolution of the George Fox mascot. At far left is the first unofficial mascot “Foxy George” from the 1950s and 1960s. The Bruin became the mascot for the school officially in the 1970s.
1970s
Five images, each displaying variations of past Bruin Jrs from bruin brawls

From Old to New

Word is that the worn-out remains of an old Bruin Jr. is placed inside a new leather Bruin Jr. There have been various Bruin Jrs. over the years, some made of canvas, some made of leather. Many have never been recovered and are still being held by alumni.

1973
1973 helicopter hovers over the campus

Free Fall

Bruin Jr. is flashed from a helicopter and dropped into a crowd of students (since then, Bruin Jr. has been dropped from a helicopter six to eight times).

1983
Photo of the rules and procedures for Bruin Jr.

Making a Comeback

The Bruin Brawl is brought back after a short break from the tradition. Students learn Bruin Jr. etiquette in dorm meetings in order to participate. Among the rules: Bruin Jr. may not be off campus for more than 24 hours, and he cannot be taken from campus in a motor vehicle.

1993
George Fox students pose for a group photo in front of a landscape in Australia

Bruin Abroad

Bruin Jr. has taken trips to Italy, Germany, Switzerland, France and England, where a British royal guard signed its belly. Here, he's shown on a student trip in Australia.

1995
Two images from 1995 showing a student running and a group of students celebrating with the Bruin Jr

Serious Competitors

Bruin Brawl is taken very seriously this year. Those classes that win possession of the prized trophy often take the time to showcase their accomplishment with a group photo. Yes, this is a big deal.

1998
In 1998, another helicopter hovers over campus

"Beary" Long Drop

You never know when and from where the bear will make an appearance. See a helicopter in the sky? Be prepared for possible mayhem.

2000s
2 images, showing crowds of students run and wrestle for the infamous bruin jr

Fakeout

George Fox President Dave Brandt fakes an ankle injury and an ambulance is “called,” only to have Bruin Jr. flashed on a paramedic’s gurney before the eyes of concerned students. This resulted in an all-out war.

2007
A crowd of students have a dance party on the quad during the bruin brawl

Dancing in the Street

A three-hour Bruin Brawl among 50 people and 100 spectators ends at 10:30 p.m. with a dance party in the middle of the street.

Today
During the 2019 bruin brawl, a group of sophomores celebrate with the remains of the bruin jr

Still Going Strong

Bruin Brawls are prearranged and supervised, and teams are coordinated by living area.