It hasn't even appeared on a class catalogue yet, but the new logo for Cal State Northridge has already been measured artistically, analyzed philosophically and attacked as a budgetary excess.
This is a university campus after all, and it's only taken a couple of weeks for the new logo--a stylized depiction of the campus' central library--to be praised, excoriated, compared to a menorah, and held up as a symbol of what's wrong at the financially troubled school.
A virulent letter to the student newspaper from anonymous staff members branded the logo "hideous and tacky looking."
"It just sort of misses the point," said faculty President Louise Lewis, adding that no one outside the campus will recognize the Oviatt Library columns the logo depicts.
Before, a commonly used symbol for the university was a simple acronym: CSUN. Now, officials say, they want the school to be known as California State University, Northridge.
University officials stand by the new logo, as well as the more formal name. Once the dust settles, they say, CSUN will emerge with a more consistent and dignified identity, recognizable to all.
"Most people instantly know USC or UCLA. But you say 'CSUN', and they don't know where it is," said Rodger MacGowan, design director in CSUN's instructional media center. "The intention was to come up with an identity that would be identifiable, and would locate the campus . . . it will take a number of years for it to eventually sink in."
The logo, which was adopted over the summer but is just coming into use for this new school year, is now being used on campus stationery and will be printed on next semester's class catalogue. Signs throughout the campus will be replaced as money permits, MacGowan said.
Some students have criticized the university for spending too much developing the logo. The campus spent $15,000 on a consultant who studied the school's public image and $3,025 for the design, said Elliot Mininberg, vice president of administration and finance.
Some students said it would also be hard for them to part with "CSUN".
"Everyone knows it as CSUN," said art major Teri Weber, 19.
But MacGowan said the term no longer fits the school's new image. "CSUN just caused too much confusion," he said.