It’s only a mascot. Or is it about more?
The recently released Campus Safety mask rules, then revised to eliminate an exception provision which allowed for ‘approval’ from Campus Safety or Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence’, was specifically crafted to eliminate DU’s unofficial mascot Denver Boone.
Disingenuous at least, and devious at worst.
The banning of Denver Boone on the DU campus is not an issue that is liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, moral or immoral. This is about freedom of expression, which clearly is in short supply when a University no longer feels comfortable supporting its heritage because of the peculiar form of ‘inclusive excellence’ being practiced. As currently exercised, this new form of ‘inclusiveness’ shuts down voices and stunts dialogue between students, faculty, staff and alumni with a twisted application of history, feelings and faux outrage, all to erase the past.
Stealthily eliminating Denver Boone’s face from Magness Arena and the DU campus is a tactic that should strike fear in anyone who believes in academic freedom. It is particularly disappointing that this effort was spearheaded by university leadership.
Thirty-two schools have learned to co-exist with unofficial mascots – including Stanford, an institution that DU much admires. But a University with aspirations of being ‘world-class’ and plans to engage the broader Denver community clearly fears a cartoon character mascot that represents nothing more than a gentle nod to the university’s founding and school nickname – Pioneers. Denver Boone was never designed or intended as a political statement – until people decided to use the mascot to advance their own political agenda.
And I fear this silencing of student and alumni voices is endorsing points of view that will not stop with a mascot ban.
The policy that bans Denver Boone from Magness Arena will energize advocates who will next move seamlessly to erase DU founder John Evans and the nickname “Denver Pioneers” in the name of ‘inclusion’. And anyone who stands in the way will be publicly labeled as out of touch, insensitive or worse.
Yes, banning Denver Boone is merely the ‘canary in the coal mine’ and signals what is to come next from the current administration. The mascot policy decision only ensures much bigger battles ahead. Don’t be surprised if the Pioneer nickname is next in the administration’s crosshairs.
We need to keep the spirit of Denver Boone alive (it is not trademarked) to remind everyone that the past cannot be erased or banned. We need to support our faculty’s efforts to create a recently proposed free speech document which will open the campus to more diverse opinions and vibrant dialogue. And yes, we need to welcome and celebrate rich diversity on the DU campus by additive efforts to create an inclusive, safe, welcoming environment for everyone.
We also need to clearly express to the administration (firstname.lastname@example.org) that ignoring our heritage and banning a mascot is not the proper way to educate and develop students’ critical thinking. Campus Life & Inclusive Excellence should be about the vibrant exchange of ideas and bridging understanding – not banning things.
Make sure you politely, publicly and firmly express your opinion with the University (once again – email@example.com), or risk future decisions which may be even more onerous. And, by the way, we believe that DU athletics had little to do with this decision, so we do not believe coaches, athletic administrators and especially athletes should be punished for this ill-conceived policy.
On the first day of 2018, a campus already lacking in tradition and school spirit just got a little worse.
Our hope is that it doesn’t get a lot worse.
Please take a few minutes and write to firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know how you feel about the banning of Denver Boone on the DU campus as well as your thoughts about any efforts to change or eliminate Pioneers as the University of Denver nickname. Your voices are critical to this issue.