The University of California system has started using a modern logo intended to be easy to use on the Internet, Facebook, and social media.

It hasn’t gone down well.

While the University started using the modern logo in November, people only became widely aware of it after news organizations reported on it last week. Within days, a group of students and alumni had posted a petition on calling for the removal of the spanking-new logo. By Monday morning, 38,340 people had signed onto the protest. A Facebook page “Stop the UC Logo Change,” has 4,500 “likes.”

“The newly designed monogram of the University of California, while attempting to be modern, loses the prestige and elegance of the current seal,” reads the petition. One commenter on Facebook wrote: “It reminds me of an overhead view of a toilet flushing … not just money … down the toilet.”

The original 144-year old seal, with the system’s motto “Let There Be Light,” is not being replaced. It will still be used on diplomas and official correspondence. But the university wanted to create a snappy, modern brand that stood out when reproduced on line, or needed to be small, Dianne Klein of UC’s Office of the President told the Oakland Tribune.

“They wanted something that would reflect the innovation, the character of California — just more modern, user-friendly,” said Klein. “That’s not to take away from the gravitas of the original seal.”

The new logo features a deep U with the letter C nestled at the bottom. It comes in a variety of colors.

Jason Simon, the director of marketing communications for the UC system, posted an explanation of the role and purpose of the new logo on the petition.

“The new mark was created as a part of our broader efforts to build awareness and support for all the things that UC does to make California (and by extension the world) better. What we have tried to do is to create a mark that is iconic, flexible, and solid enough that it works to represent the UC system as a whole. The mark can be used in a combination of the various UC blues and golds as well as in a multitude of applications. Seals are wonderful and carry a legacy and tradition. They also signify bureaucracy, staidness, and other not-so-great characteristics. Much of this was evident in the testing and discussion we did as part of the process.

“Our challenge is to represent not only the work done on our campuses but also in UC medical centers, agriculture and natural resources efforts, research centers, K-12 preparation and outreach efforts, and even things such as overseeing the state’s 4H program or the University of California Press. And, of course, the longstanding impact of our alumni. People experience the results of these efforts every day but the University receives little recognition for them. This is the message of our Onward California campaign. Much of that is visible if people want to visit Onward California. There are amazing examples of the ways that UC touches people’s lives every day and we are proud that so many people have visited the site or taken part in outreach efforts over the last several months.”

To show how the designers arrived at the new logo, UC created this video:

University of California Identity from University of California on Vimeo.

What are your thoughts? Is the logo an improvement on the original, or a travesty — or somewhere in between?

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...