Clash of Comments: Is Long Boi a campus icon or overrated?


Top of the bill or ugly duckling? Katy Leverett and James Clay debate the University's resident celebrity: Long Boi

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Image by Gracie Daw

By Katy Leverett and James Clay


I cannot fathom any reason at all for why someone wouldn’t like Long Boi, the half mallard and half Indian runner duck who is the University’s unofficial mascot. Firstly, at what other university campus would you find a celebrity who is an abnormally long-necked duck? Only in York! Long Boi’s popularity both on campus and nationally is unparalleled: with his blue verified tick on Instagram and nearly 50,000 followers, he’s clearly got a large fanbase. His popularity spans the entire planet it would seem, as Long Boi featured on James Corden’s ‘Late Late Show’.

The campus wildlife, including Long Boi, give students a way to relax and enjoy nature while studying: if you need a break from staring at your laptop in the library, you can take a walk around Derwent and try to spot all the different ducks and birds, maybe even giving them some bird food that you've bought from Nisa. Seeing Long Boi (or his friend Fancy Boi) and giving them some food is the coveted highlight of these walks.

Moreover, I find that when people ask me about studying at the University of York, one of their most pressing questions is whether "that tall duck" is actually on our campus (having discussed this with fellow students, this question is quite a common one). Thus, Long Boi almost acts as a point of interest for the Uni, attracting attention from across the country and giving prospective students a reason to join the University, as they want to see and be on a campus with the social media famous duck.

The joy this brings students across campus is evident. Possibly the most photographed duck in the UK, students can then attest to friends and family that they have "seen Long Boi". It is almost a status symbol on campus: if you’ve seen Long Boi, it is definitely a flex.

Long Boi even has a society named after him, LongBoiSoc. According to their page on YUSU’s website, the society “see the importance of getting outside for some fresh air, and the ability to socialise... while doing some good for the surrounding waterfowl.” This shows the importance of Long Boi and the campus wildlife for students’ mental health.

Moreover, according to the York Tab, in 2021 Long Boi was awarded an honorary degree by the University for his services as a “university ambassador” and for keeping student morale high during the pandemic. This shows how Long Boi has continually improved student wellbeing for the better, and that we should really be addressing him as Dr. Long Boi!

I cannot deny that the duck and geese faeces littered all over the paths by third term is a bit grim, or that the angry geese, who may or may not have chased me around Central Hall in first year, can build a case against the campus’ waterfowl. Yet fundamentally, if Long Boi and the waterfowl didn’t exist, campus would be a much duller place. There’d be no buzz whilst walking through Derwent about whether we might see the celebrity himself, no free duck plushie when we graduate, and no duck content to fill up our camera rolls. The lack of cute campus wildlife would mean breaks walking around campus would lack what we all want to see: cute ducks.

To conclude, it's clear Long Boi is good for campus: he improves student mental health raises the University’s profile both nationally and internationally. All because he's slightly taller than his companions, he gives the University a mascot that we can all look forward to owning in plushie form. Who wouldn’t be excited about that?


Ever since some point last year, when I had nothing better to think about, I have nurtured a deep and lasting loathing for Long Boi and the attention that he undeservedly receives. I am not against ducks in principle. In fact, I happen to think that the ducks and geese that inhabit our campus provide a welcome contrast to the brutalist concrete jungle of Campus West. Living and studying within a natural and green environment is pleasant and very helpful for one's mental health. However, there are limits to my admiration for the natural environment. Beyond those limits lies Long Boi - a duck I deeply despise.

Although it certainly is not my principal reason for disliking this wretched creature, I have to take issue initially with the choice of his name. I do not know who decided to name the duck Long Boi but it is a ridiculous name that reminds me of how far wrong we have gone as a society. Boy is spelt with a “y”, not with an “i”. As a grammatical purist, albeit one who may make the odd, unintentional mistake, I simply do not understand people’s desire to change perfectly good words in order to fit in with hip, urban, youth culture.

Putting aside my resistance towards the unstoppable wave of linguistic butchery, I also take issue with the sense of favouritism that surrounds the cult of Long Boi. What is wrong with all the other ducks and geese on campus? Should we not treat all animals fairly and distribute breadcrumbs based upon need rather than on length of neck? It seems a pretty bizarre form of prejudice. George Orwell was evidently correct when he wrote that “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. Just imagine how all the other ducks feel when Long Boi gets all the attention. It is unfair and discriminatory.

One may retort by arguing that the ducks, including Long Boi himself, are oblivious to how much attention they receive. This may or may not be true but it is the principle of fair treatment that matters above anything else. Injustice comes in many forms, including that which is based upon the relative length of one’s neck. We are taught in school not to discriminate against a certain group of people, even if that group is unaware of the discrimination that takes place. In this respect, Long Boi is the Jeff Bezos of the campus waterfowl.

There is not only a moral argument against the cult of Long Boi, but also a symbolic one. For me, Long Boi symbolises the shame that I felt when I was not fortunate enough to be accepted by one of the two Oxbridge universities. Throughout many centuries, great thinkers and scholars have graduated from Oxbridge and gone on to be world leaders in their respective fields. Known globally as places of elite academic rigour and cultural significance, the students of Oxbridge have something to be proud about. Yet at York the thing we are known for is a duck with an unusually long neck. What on earth is that about? Do we not have anything else going for us?

I will admit that I have never actually managed to spot Long Boi, albeit I have never put any effort into finding the aquatic menace. Perhaps when I am in his presence I will have some quasi-religious epiphany and convert to his cult. I highly doubt that though. I would urge new freshers to remember that searching for Indian runner ducks is a very pointless exercise, except if one has a particular proclivity for zoology. Long Boi should not be hailed as the University’s unofficial mascot. He should be put in his rightful place amongst all the other ducks that inhabit the campus. He has a big neck. He does not need a big ego.