On the cold, wet morning of Oct. 2, something new flew onto Montclair’s campus: the controversial Red Hawk statue. The statue arrived just in time for Montclair’s Homecoming Weekend. Most Homecoming events are taking place on Oct. 3.
Since the announcement of the bronze statue – accented with gold, wax-based highlights – and its $210,000 price tag, there has been an uproar among students and faculty about the statue’s overall value to the campus community. Many students believe that the money used to build the statue could have been used for something more immediately beneficial for students, though school officials have defended the decision by expressing that it will help build school pride.
The company that built the statue, Hanlon Sculpture Studio of Toms River, also believes it will improve the school spirit. Though he has received backlash for creating the statue, owner and founder of the company Brian Hanlon is optimistic about the project, which started during the fall of 2014. “The hawk should make a difference on campus,” said Hanlon. “There’s a weird story behind it now because of the controversy, but it’s still gonna inspire people.” Hanlon also said the statue is “the biggest bird in New Jersey.”
The statue sits on a granite base in a new plaza with floor lights, between College Hall and Panzer Athletic Center. Hanlon Sculpture Studio also created the Yogi Berra statue that sits in front of the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center on Montclair State’s campus.
Throughout the installation, students, staff and even President Susan Cole filtered through to see the 10-foot statue for the first time.
“I’m the first one to ever take a selfie in front of the statue, I made history!” said freshman Mario Papa. Most passersby whipped out their smartphones and cameras on their way to class or work to take photos (and selfies) with the new campus landmark.
Another student, sophomore Leonardo Trudillo, was on the fence. “It’s a nice statue to have,” he said. However, he also believed the school could have “cut down the price of books or [helped] out the students.”
Initially unaware of how the statue would turn out, junior Samantha Williams finally saw it and decided she was in favor of the statue. “I think people are going to see it, forget they were mad and fall in love with it.”
Creator Hanlon is surprised by the resistance to the statue among Montclair State students, since this is “the first time in [his] career it’s ever happened.” The company has created many civic, athletic and religious works across the country, but has also done many college works, like the Pirate at Seton Hall University and the Owl at Rowan University.
“I think the fuel behind this fury is uninformed,” said Hanlon. “Embrace the hawk! That’s your mascot.”