Et Tu, Brutus?

Emma Franklin reflects on her time as Brutus

Emma Franklin waves goodbye to crowd at her last time wearing the Brutus head. Photo by: Hannah Crouch

On Friday, Feb. 18, Brutus’ identity was revealed.

Ferris hospitality senior Emma Franklin has played Brutus since 2020. She attended over 50 events as Brutus and logged over 100 hours in the suit. 

Franklin spoke about her Brutus tryout, which included the rarely worn Rufus suit.

“Pretty much for the tryout process you jump into the Rufus suit and you go around at some form of an event… Mine was a basketball game. So, I got like 20 minutes in the Rufus suit, where I kinda just walked around and interacted with the crowd, and there were judges throughout the crowds from the Gold Club,” Franklin said.

Franklin started her portrayal of Brutus in March of 2020, meaning she started during the pandemic. At the time, Ferris was virtual and no fans were allowed to physically attend any games. Fast forward to now, where Franklin has been Brutus for just about two years, and fans have returned to the stands. 

Franklin spoke about the feeling she gets whenever fans go crazy over Brutus at events.

“Honestly, it’s a real interesting feeling. It’s really cool,” Franklin said. “Especially the pep-band, for example. Every time Brutus walked by they were always cheering, ‘Brutus! We love you!’ Like, it’s a super fun feeling. It almost makes you feel like you’re famous, but at the same time you don’t know who I am, so it’s more comfortable.” 

Franklin also discussed anonymity. She explained that those who portray Brutus receive a scholarship for doing so. However, exposing your identity runs the risk of losing that scholarship. Franklin went on to say that besides bosses, the only people who know of Brutus’ identity are those who are in the Student Alumni Gold Club. 

The Student Alumni Gold Club is an RSO and a chapter of Ferris’ Alumni Association, which Franklin joined before her time as Brutus The RSO handles mascot coordination, which is a role Franklin  held before donning the Brutus suit. 

Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Ben Withey gave his thoughts on what it takes to play Brutus.

“I think it does take a certain type of individual to be able to… keep it a secret, and… the most important and challenging thing for really any mascot is to find a way to be animated without using your voice…,” Withey said.

Withey went on to laud Franklin as “phenomenal” in her portrayal. He also added how she “hit the ground running” after being hired.

Alongside her positive aspects, Franklin shared the hardships of being Brutus.

“It wasn’t all that easy,” Franklin said. “I also work on campus here, [so] there were times I was balancing class, RSOs, being Brutus and work. I was lucky I had a boss that knew, [so] I was able to talk to her, and I had a program director who was extremely flexible. I was lucky that I had a lot of people to work with me, but there were definitely days that I was just exhausted. Going from thing to thing, especially [on] the football game weekends. I was the dog for almost every single football game. You can imagine working and going to class all week, then jumping in the suit for the entire day on Saturday. It’s a lot.”

Franklin went on to expand on how hard the football games could be, especially when students and alumni were drinking. Franklin has been hit, inappropriately grabbed and pushed. She also noted that, even with handlers, she felt “defenseless.”

Despite this, Franklin recommends being Brutus if you can keep up with the physical demands. Franklin used the word “fun” when describing the job, adding that the scholarship is also amazing. 

Withey gave credit to Franklin’s work throughout the 100+ events she has worked. 

“Her professionalism in handling a lot of these events and her portrayal of Brutus have all been really good. It’s fair to say she set the bar, or has at least maintained it” Withey said. 

With Franklin graduating in the spring, she passed the golden bone to the next Bulldog to play Brutus. Ferris will have to wait to see who the new Brutus is until they graduate.