Disingenuous Policy Deserves a Rebuke

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.

 

Megaboone 3
MegaBoone does not fall under the new mask rules policy. But will Campus Safety and the DU administration target this Magness Arena icon next?

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 (alumni@du.edu) 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 – alumni@du.edu), 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.

Atomic Clock

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 alumni@du.edu 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.

21 thoughts on “Disingenuous Policy Deserves a Rebuke”

  1. A very well written, well-reasoned defense of school identity here.

    This DU administration is trying so hard try to be more welcoming to minorities, which they believe are the demographic future of America, and this whole mascot/nickname issue, they believe, is an obstacle to achieving that dream.

    I will give them some credit for the goal – DU does need to be more inclusive of minorities, but DU must far more strategic and thoughtful about minority recruitment than throwing-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater approach they appear to have chosen.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. True and the problem isn’t a mascot or identity, it’s the rising cost of tuition that is marginalizing true diversity. Not that there aren’t minorities that can earn a scholarship or afford tuition, of course they can, but let’s face it, traditional education even at the public level is now priced out of reach for much of the population, let alone private institutions. Get a grip DU and stop pretending it’s a mascot or nickname holding you back. That’s a sorry excuse for whatever you feel ails you. Take a hard look at the numbers and be the first university to start rolling back tuition without sacrificing what actually matters, the quality of education.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Excellently written. Unfortunately, the train has already left the station. The administration and trustees can’t back-track without severe embarrassment and reputational risk.
    As has become the norm at colleges and universities throughout the nation, liberalism and political correctness is pervasive and destructive at the highest levels. Traditions and history be damned.
    Reality tells me this is a losing battle.
    Therefore, in the future the only donations I’ll be making to DU will be specifically and fully directed to the athletic programs which are the only source of pride remaining for the university and its alumni.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Regarding minorities and what Puck said, DU is an upper middle class to wealthy white university. Facts.
    Walk around campus, look at the faces, see the clothes, look at the cars students are driving, particularly in off-campus apartments/houses. That’s who can afford the school.
    Financial scholarships only go so far.
    Academic scholarships are given to incoming freshmen and they remain the same for four years, while tuition goes up every year.
    See what parents say at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/UniversityofDenverParents/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Faxx – This is a ‘parents only’ Facebook page. Could you direct them to letsgodu.com and present the issue in their discussion group. That would be helpful. And, please direct them to send a note about the Boone ban or the future of the Pioneer nickname at boardoftrustees@du.edu and cc alumni@du.edu. Thanks for your help!

      Like

  4. It appears that Chancellor Chopp wants to lead the University of Denver into a major “Rebranding Phase” based on Identity Politics. As far as I can tell, no research has been done that will predict what the reaction will be from Alumni, students, the community or the public at large.

    This is about more than mascots, its about who we are and how we identify ourselves. DU has 152 year history with John Evans, 92 years of the Pioneer nickname & 50 years of Denver Boone.

    Our alumni love Evans, Pioneers & Boone. Do some research (DU should hire McKinsey & Company if necessary). The favorability ratings from Alumni will be far over 90%.

    What is the hurry to the throw this equity away? Could it be that the anti-Boone forces on campus see a narrow window to achieve their objective. The anti-Boone faction, 99% of whom never when to DU (Ritchie, Chopp, faculty, administration & on and on).

    In the past year alone we have seen a nationwide shift away from identity politics and a focus towards sexual harassment. Is DU going to shift in the wind every time a new cause rears its head. In other words, DU will be followers & not Pioneers.

    I can promise you; thousands, if not tens of thousands of alums will repudiate Chopp’s Rebranded Vision for DU. In this age of social media, there’s no room for error.

    “Measure twice, cut once,” my Dad always said.

    DU must embrace its history, not run from it. If Chancellor Chopp in unable embrace the Alumni’s vision for the University, replace her.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. If the Pioneer train has indeed left the station and they do want to foist a new nickname on us, let them say so in public. Don’t sneakily hide behind cryptic mask policies. State your intentions and your rationale. And then be prepared for the fallout.

    If and when they drop “Pioneers”, the Boone issue will look like a class picnic…

    If the Pioneer nickname goes and DU turns its back on its western heritage, they won’t just face the wrath of us alumni, students and sports ticket buyers on social media. They will face the general anger of the people the city and state (they very people they are trying to reach out to and engage), who take pride in the many achievements of the Pioneers in building our school, city and state, and do NOT find that name to be offensive. They will also likely face a barrage of local media and also right wing national media, which will be very uncomfortable for them, as DU is portrayed as a traitorous school that repudiates American heritage, as well as repudiating it’s own heritage. Not a good look when you are living in a resource constrained world, where you need all of your audiences to support you.

    The fallout will be significant. Many, many now DU-engaged people will leave DU behind, as there are many other places that will value them. Donations will drop. Anger will skyrocket. DU will be left with an audience that not only doesn’t go to sporting events, but will also be saddled with personal and student debt and who can not afford to sustain the place. This won’t blow over in a year or two. There is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow here…

    I hope the Board of Trustees can see this train-wreck coming. I fear though, since the BOT are the ones who selected this leadership team, that they are largely stuck with supporting them.

    This is the beginning of the end, folks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Somehow I knew that the Boone fight was not over. Chopp and her acolytes need to find a safe zone because the wrath of DU alumni is about to descend on them. Not that they care, but if they want to go down this road then I am done with DU. No money, no season tickets. Are they so incredibly arrogant that they think we will continue to support them?

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Agreed. If they so much as mess with the Pioneer name, the “boycott” and anger at the administration from alumni who actually give a damn about DU will be tremendous. They risk effectively severing their ties with like 75% of their alumni. Donations–forget about it. Season tickets to athletic events–can you say “plummet”? All to please a couple of “out there” faculty members and a few students who are tying to bolster their resumes for grad school? Wow, can you say “horrible business decision?” I know it’s speculation at this point, but surely the administration can’t be so amazingly stupid as to mess with the name Pioneers.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. As an alum who graduated when Boone was welcome everywhere (‘97), I haven’t liked any of the steps to erase him from DU history. If I’m Boone right now, I’m ordering up a really nice coonskin hat, getting fitted for a Davy Crockett suede costume, and growing a beard a la West Virginia’s human mascot. After all, there are currently no policies against humans dressed in fur or leather at games (Those are fighting words in CO and WY). Boone may have started life as a caricature, but he’s become decidedly more human in the last decade or so. DU might be able to ban what’s on a person’s face, but they can’t ban what’s in our hearts. Your move, DU. #UnmaskBoone #Rebirth #Resist #BooneNation

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Stephen, I have worn a “Booneskin” camp to hockey games for the last five or six years along with a Boone sweatshirt. During the CC games I used to wear a “CC sucks” sweatshirt but was told by the DU fashion police that I had to cease and desist wearing it or I would not be allowed in the arena. I fear this will be the last season I will b attending hockey games. I have been attending DU hockey games for nearly 50 years. A sad ending.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I don’t think they are contemplating this monumental of a change to please whiny faculty members or grad students. I believe that they really believe that this is change in DU’s image in largely based on major demographic changes in the population of future college age students as minority populations increase.They believe DU has to fundamentally change to meet that demographic reality. I think that’s how they sold the board on this, and the Board likely picked this Chancellor to help them modernize DU, and she may see ‘Pioneers’ as impediment to growth, not a strong base to grow on (as we probably see it).

    The Boone/Pioneers tandem, to them, is a likely a symbol of the old, rich and white DU they are trying to move away from.

    For a school that is about 75% tuition-dependent today, I just don’t see their strategy as economically viable. The Full-pay families are already paying more to offset the diversity enrollment they crave, and I don’t see how further alienating the core base of DU will be helpful to them.

    But perhaps, they don’t always make decisions based on economics. My guess that is they are trying to change to culture of DU, and this is one way of getting people’s attention…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. JAN
      11
      A Conversation with Dr. Cornel West and Chancellor Rebecca Chopp
      Public · Hosted by University of Denver Campus Life and 2 others
      Join us as the University of Denver and Chancellor Rebecca Chopp host American philosopher Dr. Cornel West to discuss how his work can help address the complex challenges facing higher education and society today.

      TOPIC: Cultural-Spiritual and Democratic Analytics: An Interview on the Education, Race and Democracy of Dr. Cornel West by Chancellor Rebecca Chopp

      ABOUT: Dr. West is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University, and holds the title of Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris. He best known for his books Race Matters and Democracy Matters.

      Anymore questions?

      Like

  9. Explanation appreciated. Stupid rationale on DU’s part, in my opinion, and the stark issue remains that there is nothing whatsoever offensive about the word “Pioneers.” They can talk themselves in circles about inclusive excellence and changing demographics….but it doesn’t change that fact. And if the word Pioneers is offensive to 1% of the population, then who gives a fook? Idiots are concerning themselves with such foolishness, yet DU’s rankings remain stagnant at around 80 or whatever it is, despite the wealth of capital improvements. Do your real job, get DU in the top 50 national universities, then deal with such idiotic matters if you must.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. To marginalize Boone is a debatable decision. (Personally, I think a more inclusive, updated refresh to Boone may be the solution we’re all looking for. Surely there are plenty of talented graphic designers in DU’s midst?) To do away with the Pioneers nickname, as many of you have already stated, is shortsighted with navigable collateral damage at best and potentially ruinous to the non-academic DU culture at worst.

    At root of the issue is nothing less than the overall direction of the university itself. To make a decision based on chasing the demographics tail purely for its own sake is myopic at best: how can one know what the tastes and preferences for higher education and/or vocational training are for future students of diverse backgrounds? And this myopia is exemplified by misreading the demographic projections. It’s not that rich white kids will suddenly disappear; rather, as we add 100 million more U.S. residents in the coming decades, we will evolve as a society to reflect our diversity.

    More likely, as evidenced throughout the U.S. already, it will be less about the rich white student profile and more about the racially blended student population, as white, black, Asian, Native, and Hispanic Americans all intermarry with each other. However, the tendency is to frame the university’s future direction in a clear binary white/non-white appropriation of cultural values. But given DU’s institutional profile, unless there’s a complete reversal in its mission, the future won’t be played out in that way.

    These future applicants in a new, more diverse America will more than likely come from the same upper middle class and wealthy socioeconomic background that their forebears have; some will reflect the traditional DU student profile, while others will look different. They will embrace certain traditions and discard others, just as successive generations have always done. Whose to say if they will find ‘Pioneers’ offensive or have an entirely different read on it, one much more in line with their tech-savvy world?

    What the DU administration must avoid is a conscious path towards alienating its very foundation of alumni for the sake of socio-political expediency. DU will continue to become more diverse, surely as we as a nation become more diverse, and yes, the path forward is to continue to diversify the campus socio-economically, increasing access to higher education for those willing to embrace that opportunity, but may not be able to afford to do so.

    However, the Pioneer name will evolve with whatever the future student body interprets. There is no need for this BoT and administration to use a heavy hand in their own version of cultural appropriation to soothe an insatiable desire and hubris to ‘leave a mark.’

    Like

  11. I received an immediate response from Ron Grahame:

    Miller,

    Sorry to hear we’ve lost your support. Athletics is a part of the University and while we were engaged in the discussion, we are bound to follow any final direction determined by university leadership. You are certainly welcome to engage alumni@du.edu to share your frustration and opinion.

    Ron Grahame
    Division of Athletics and Recreation
    Athletic Director

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That downcast tone from Ron Grahame is certainly deeply concerning. He’s essentially saying between the lines, at least in my view, that he can’t do very much about this, and while he’s technically correct in what he said that they are engaged in the discussion and bound by the directives of DU senior leadership, there is also a sense of inevitability in his deflection.

      As the highest performing division in the entire university (and it’s not even close – how many top 10 academic programs are there at DU, let alone top-ranked?), as well as being the front porch of the University, it’s clear to me that the University Leadership does not have enough respect for the views of current athletics leadership. I imagine that lack of respect from senior leadership must be at least part of Peg’s decision to retire now…Her quote in the Denver Post about “knowing when to leave the party” is to me, a coded message that her excellence and her views are no longer appreciated as they once were…Very sad for all of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m proud to say I worked at the University of Denver for 20 years, from 1969-1989. When there was great pride in the DU community. It’s a shame in this “political correct” time we have to destroy a long time tradition, very sad.

    Liked by 2 people

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