While DU students were enjoying their well-earned holiday break, certain DU senior administrators were working in the shadows of the empty campus to hatch a devious new ruling, which they have since implemented, hoping you wouldn’t notice….
Yes, the rumors are true. The Denver Boone costumed mascot is now effectively banned from campus, under the guise of a new “Mask Policy” effective January 1, 2018 (from DU Campus Safety Policies Web Site):
“For the safety of all DU community members and guests, persons may not wear masks which conceal the face on University premises, including but not limited to masks worn with the intent to or having the effect of intimidating, threatening, or harassing any other person; avoiding identity while engaged in conduct prohibited by University policies or any law; or causing any persons to fear for their personal safety. This policy shall not apply to: covering any part of the face for religious reasons; wearing protective equipment while engaged in a sport or responding to an emergency or safety situation; engaging in a theatrical production or similar University sanctioned event; or wearing a mask for protection from weather or medical reasons.”
Former DU Chancellor Robert Coombe’s 2008 open letter to the DU community had allowed “[DU] students and alumni to use the [Boone] image … to the extent that they may choose.” However, today, senior elements of the current DU administration have clearly taken umbrage with Coombe’s 2008 ruling, and have now issued this new mask fatwa. Nearly nine years after the unofficial mascot first re-appeared at DU in a community-funded costume, students dressed (or anyone else for that matter) as the smiling cartoon character will no longer be permitted on campus under the new “mask policy”.
What is particularly troubling to us about this new policy is that DU didn’t have the guts to ban Boone outright and face the anger from the DU community directly. Instead, the administration disingenuously used “campus safety” as a cover and rolled out the policy when the students were away. We believe this policy is little more than an excuse to ban Boone while hiding like weasels behind a “prevention of terrorism” rationale.
To make matters worse, an earlier version of the mask policy that was posted on the DU website in mid-December (and screen-captured by us) contained information about how to seek exceptions to the mask policy (see key passage below that we’ve underlined in red).
Naturally, some well-connected people we know immediately inquired whether an exception could be made for the Denver Boone costume, as long as the students wearing the costume could be vetted before each event — identified, photographed and wrist-banded. Thus, it would be clear to Campus Safety who was inside the Boone costume at each event, thereby removing virtually any possible safety threat…if in fact, safety was the real issue.
Unfortunately for Boone fans, the Chancellor’s Office promptly declined the Boone exception, which confirms, at least to us, that the policy is mostly a sneaky, executive move to eliminate the Boone costume from campus.
Perhaps more shocking is that immediately after denying the request for an exception, the policy wording on the website was actually changed to remove that last underlined sentence about seeking exceptions, to the version you can see today. If this reminds you of the ever-changing “Seven Commandments” on the barn wall in George Orwell’s dystopian novel Animal Farm, you wouldn’t be far off…
In our view, the whole policy, the denial of the exception and the changing of the wording are all outright disingenuous and pretty ironic for a top university that purports to promote free speech and makes its own student community sign an honor code!
Surely, the DU Advancement Office is going to love this development, especially as they head into a new Capital Campaign. After all, who doesn’t love the troika of lost donations combined with revived student, alumni, donor, and sports fan anger, all accentuated by a copious potential helping of the bad press to come. What a fun environment to raise money in!
By the way, we take no joy in writing this. We know some members of the DU community are tired out from years of mascot wars (and we suspect the DU administration is counting on this fatigue factor). And no one loves our school more than we do. People connected to this blog and our loyal cadre of readers have done more for DU school spirit with their own funds and energy than anyone we know. We hate seeing our Pioneer pride and school traditions crushed by people who care little about our traditions. We shed this light on the dark corners of our beloved university in order to bring the issues into the open and hopefully, to solve them together.
Most importantly, if we don’t fight once again for our shared history and traditions, we fear they will be wiped away forever.
Shame on you, DU.
Note: If you think the costumed Boone mascot should still be allowed on campus, you may want to reach out to the following offices: DU Board of Trustees firstname.lastname@example.org and DU Chancellor’s Office email@example.com