‘Peace, comfort and childlike wonder’: Toy bear travels campus

WUbear in the GroundHouse on campus (Madeline Bell)

In 2019, a bear was stranded in Shocker Dining Hall — a stuffed one. 

That bear, now called WUbear, was discovered right around Valentine’s Day in 2019, sitting alone at a table. Students started putting a plate in front of him with silverware and cups, causing workers to wonder.

Jamie Kraisinger, senior director of WSU Dining Services, said she and her coworkers found the bear’s owner, but they decided to leave it at WSU.

Over the last four years, WUbear has moved all around campus and attended different events.

“He’s usually where something really cool and kind is happening,” Kelly Linenberger, director of marketing for WSU Dining Services, said. 

Kraisinger said that at one point, WUbear was at the Starbucks on campus. 

“(Students) were putting their leftover drinks like they had shared a drink with him,” Kraisinger said.

Along with popping up at campus events, Linenberger said WUbear acts as an emotional support bear. 

“He’s kind of a nice little welcoming guy to have in the (dining services) office, so when people are waiting, they don’t feel like they’re sitting alone on a couch,” Linenberger said. 

WUbear has dressed up for various events and holidays, like the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras and more.

“We’re all adults, but I think that what we learned through our jobs day to day is everybody still has that kid at heart piece,” Kraisinger said. “Everybody’s adult and too cool to do this, but you bring a bear around, and everybody goes back, ‘Oh, he’s so cute,’ or ‘Oh, that’s awesome.’ 

“It’s cool to see that child-like sentimental piece back into who we are.”

Krasinginer added that it’s nice to see something so universally loved by so many.

“He has that element of just peace, comfort and child-like wonder,” Linenberger said. 

To see more of WUbear, you can follow @wsudining on Instagram, which has a highlight reel setup for WUbear.