BREAKING: Trailblazers? DU Administration colluded with key student groups and staff on groundwork for name/mascot change

Note: As the publisher of LetsGoDU, our mission has been to promote the University of Denver, support athletics, and grow the Pioneer spirit. Recent events have forced us to critically examine what is happening at the University of Denver. This article is our best effort to bring these activities into focus so we have a clear understanding of the orchestrated efforts within the University of Denver which are promoting the elimination of Denver Boone and even the replacement of the school’s 93-year nickname, Denver Pioneers.

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Mike Chambers, who has covered University of Denver Hockey for the Denver Post since the 1990s, tweeted Tuesday night that he heard from DU Alumni that the nickname “Trailblazers” may have been the intended replacement name for the Pioneers.  We had heard that troubling news as well, including the disturbing detail that the administration may have been planning to announce this name change the first quarter of this year, or possibly, within weeks.https://twitter.com/MikeChambers/status/950936640893075456

In fact, our own highly-placed sources now indicate that senior elements of the DU administration were working for many months in collusion with key staff and student groups to lay the groundwork for this potential name, as well as a mascot change.

Fortunately, our readers’ response to the bungled mask policy scandal we exposed on this blog over the last week has likely damaged this Pioneer name replacement plan. But until the administration comes forward and publicly announces that Pioneers will remain our name, we urge Pioneer fans to remain skeptical.

Let’s look into the timeline of potential collusion and between DU senior administrators, staff and student groups. Here is what we know so far of the orchestrated campaign:

The first time we heard about any potential campaign to remove DU’s Pioneer nickname was back in April of 2016, when DU insiders informed us that some staff members within DU’s ‘Inclusive Excellence’ area were taking aim at the DU nickname and to not be surprised if a campaign to remove it became a reality. Obviously, they began to get serious over the next year.

The “No More ‘Pios’” campaign” by the DU Native Student Alliance was organized and launched in October of 2017. We know that this group was encouraged by Inclusive Excellence staff, and that members of DU’s ‘Inclusive Excellence’ staff helped them procure materials used to create their #NoPios campaign.

By November, the DU Student Government (USG) was already working on a new mascot, as per its minutes from the Nov 14th meeting. 

Here are the minutes from that meeting:

In November, some of our blog staffers were alerted by DU student leaders that they and other student organizations were told that DU may be “planning something in regard to nicknames and mascots” for “January 2018”. The student leaders were told by DU to “stop what they are doing until then” —  implying that it was all going to be taken care of in January. Indeed, the potential name/mascot change decision may be inferred from point #9 in the USG minutes “School has been tackling this issue for so long that may be time to simply make a decision.”

In mid-December, key alumni leaders we know were contacted by Renell Wynn, DU’s Vice Chancellor for Communications, and advised that a mask ban had been approved by the DU Board of Trustees. Perhaps the administration was hoping that a response to the ban would be buried by holiday distractions. We’ve since exposed the mask policy as anti-Boone motivated, rather than a safety-motivated policy.

While we’re in the early stages of figuring out who did what and when, it’s clear to us that the Inclusive Excellence faction of the DU administration has been leading this charge against the Pioneer nickname and mascot, and we believe that they have been encouraging DU students to help drive their movement. 

As of today, there have been a number of media features on this scandal that you should be aware of:

College Fix Social Justice

College Fix Pioneers & Genocide

Denver Post Mascot Debate

It should be noted that DU is now sending (slightly personalized) form emails to those who have complained, saying that “rumors online” of a name change are “false”. The convoluted wording of the emails, however, fails to positively assert that our nickname will, in fact, remain “Pioneers”. We have heard the email is based on talking points provided to staff, as the university tries to control the damage it has created.

Alert

New Information added 1/12/18:

1) The same time last April that we heard of the rumors to eliminate ‘Pioneers’, Denver Boone was asked to leave an official DU sponsored pregame party – the first time ever.
 2) The University Student government (USG) has a faculty adviser, Carl Johnson – Executive Director of Campus Life (Reporting to Lilian Rodriguez!!!!), so the administration must have clearly known about the new student mascot being designed by the USG.
 3) We know that at minimum the USG had been working on a new Mascot since the Spring Quarter of last year from student sources. Also, the USG President, Morgan Smith, refused to answer two written requests to meet during the course of this past year to discuss the mascot situation – further hiding their intentions.
4) We sent a letter to the Chairman of the Board, Doug Scrivner,  last year regarding clarification on the Pioneers nickname – with no response.
5) Vice Chancellor for Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence  Liliana Rodriguez issued a letter with the following on January 16, 2017 which reads, “(Denver Boone) is offensive to many, and represents potential risks to safety. Our leadership team is committed to developing procedures that ensure that our past decisions regarding mascots are respected. The full leadership team is leading this effort”. This proves collusion, knowledge and forethought – a full year before the mask ban went into effect. The Chancellor, Provost Gregg Kvistad and Senior Adviser to the Chancellor and Provost on Diversity & Inclusion Frank Tuitt were all copied on the Rodriguez letter.

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Do not let your guard down. Keep on writing until the Chancellor and/or the Board of Trustees makes a public statement that we are, and will be, Pioneers forever.

Atomic Clock

Send your emails about the new mascot policy banning Denver Boone and the future of the Denver’s Pioneer nickname to boardoftrustees@du.edu and be sure to cc Alumni@du.edu

35 thoughts on “BREAKING: Trailblazers? DU Administration colluded with key student groups and staff on groundwork for name/mascot change”

  1. I’m concerned that several DU administrators may have been actively & knowingly damaging DU’s Brand on campus, locally & nationally all while drawing a salary from the University of Denver. If true, isn’t that grounds for termination?

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  2. Truly baffling. A few comments…

    The role of DU Inclusive Excellence staff in pursuing this change in secret demonstrates a shocking disregard for the value of broad and diverse input from the DU community completely contrary to their stated (and rapidly expanding) role on campus. Attempting to launch such a change in secret also suggests complete naiveté as to the broad required support required to successfully rebrand an entire university and athletics program.
    It would be insightful to learn what budget had been allocated to fund such a significant change and to consider other uses for those funds within the university. Had any donor been identified who was willing to be publicly associated with such an effort?
    Pioneer Capital regularly recruits students from the Daniels College of Business and holds on-campus Meet & Greet events arranged through the Career Services office. What sort of a message would a change in nickname send to this university partner?
    https://career.du.edu/events/2017/10/24/meet-greet-pioneer-capital/
    There seem to be a number of other organizations in Colorado that continue to use the Pioneer name in various forms – the Colorado Springs Pioneer Community Investment Fund, Pioneer Wine and Spirits, Pioneer Sand/Landscaping, etc.
    Should a change to “Trailblazers” ever be initiated I suspect that support for Boone as the school’s unofficial mascot would reach epic proportions.
    No question that a serious risk remains until (and perhaps even after) there is a commitment from the senior leadership of the university that the Pioneer name will be retained.
    Ironically the most famous team to choose the Trailblazers name, the Portland NBA franchise, only did so because the most popular choice, “Pioneers”, was already used by local Lewis & Clark College.

    From the Portland Trailblazers Wikipedia page…”Two weeks later, on February 24, team management held a contest to select the team’s name and received more than 10,000 entries. The most popular choice was “Pioneers”, but that name was excluded from consideration as it was already used by sports teams at Portland’s Lewis & Clark College. The name “Trail Blazers” received 172 entries, and was ultimately selected by the judging panel”.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_Trail_Blazers#Franchise_inception

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Pioneer” – Develop or be the first to use or apply; a person who is the first to explore a new area or develop new knowledge in a field; etc etc

    The fact that anyone truly has an issue with “Pioneers” represents the pinnacle of absurdity. I find it hard to believe anyone in the DU admin genuinely has an issue with this but rather are catering to the loud voices of a tiny minority, and if they really are offended by it then get the hell out of the University for they cannot possible lead DU into greener pastures. Those select few student on campus who have such an issue quite frankly need to grow thicker skin. Yes the Pioneers that DU likely references were the primarily white settlers of the 17-1800s, which is historical fact, and as much as it torments them Denver was settled by these pioneers. I understand that they have an issue because they interpret “Pioneers” as a homage to those who ended the Native American way of life. While that is unfortunate it is also prudent to note how at the time both sides treated it like all out war and both sides committed terrible war-like acts (scalping, for instance). It was history. It happened 200 years ago. Get over it. Additionally the University clearly is celebrating the definition I gave above, not “white supremacy” as many of them claim and most certainly are not glorifying the wars of the 18th century.

    Those who are rabidly and loudly anti-Boone and anti-Pioneer are perseveratively racist against white folks (even if they are white themselves and have misplaced guilt). Just read some of their quotes and it becomes quite apparent. Meanwhile the DU administration is so chickenshit and afraid of being accused of racism themselves that they bend over backward to appease the absurdity of a few.

    I had a great experience at DU, but I greatly fear for it as it becomes a PC echo chamber.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Obviously, I am not a DU fan, but I almost puked when I read that story about the University of Denver administration changing the school’s nickname to the Trailblazers. WTF is that? Wow, can you imagine the Fighting Hawks play the Trail Blazers in the championship game of the Frozen Faceoff. Yuck. At least we voted for our lame nickname. This is Tyranny.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is ridiculous–it’s clear that the people behind this do not give a flying fook about the opinions of tens of thousands of alumni. They have to know (don’t they?) that almost every single alum (and most students) would be outraged if the university made such a horrible decision. That they would orchestrate this effort in secret is pretty scandalous, and completely contrary to the idea of open dialogue that the concept of “inclusive excellence” should promote. All around horrible leadership from DU, who appears to be chasing some kind of goal that it can’t even effectively define! “Inclusive excellence” doesn’t give you the right to pursue every ridiculous notion that may cross your mind. I don’t know what made DU see the light. But they should be very relieved that they (apparently) took this horrible idea off the table. Concerned friends of the university must make sure that it STAYS off the table permanently, or we should start to push for a change in leadership.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. One other hilarious thought–if they were thinking of changing it to Trailblazers, there is no doubt that it would be shortened to Blazers. A perfect nickname to attract pot smoking students to the mecca of pot–what right minded stoner wouldn’t want to be a DU Blazer! You can’t make this kind of stupidity up.

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  7. “Can’t wait to get the new Trailblazers swag at the bookstore,” said no one ever.
    Getting rid of the Pioneers name is a joke. It doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, as the word is all about forward movement and being progressive by nature; the very epitome of what higher education espouses.
    Here’s a suggested Boone compromise: just make it the accepted (official, unofficial, whichever) mascot for hockey only. It’s the sport most associated with Boone. Allow him to come to hockey games only and that’s that. We don’t need another mascot for the other sports.

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  8. The ineptness of DU’s handling of this train wreck is staggering. Getting rid of Boone once and for all and eliminating “Pioneers” has always been their end game. They assume we won’t see through their ‘mask” policy. “If it walks like a duck…”
    As someone posted, in the private sector, their actions would have resulted in someone’s termination. Of course, none of these bureaucrats would last long in the real world.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Everyone knows that DU comrades pushed to get rid of the Pioneer mascot Denver Boone so they could eliminate ‘Pioneers’. Don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do. What are you guys, Stupid?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Has anyone bothered to search to see if the trademark is available or if anyone has applied for it? Or was DU to arrogant and stupid to do that before this whole “boone”doggle started?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. There is still no firm commitment from the DU administration that we will all remain Pioneers. In recent correspondence, the “powers that be” continue to avoid the issue. Their rhetoric is murky and they skirt the edges. As I said early, what is most annoying is that they take us for fools and they believe that we don’t see through their lies and deception.

    They need to own up to their mistake and start an honest dialogue with the community. As this moment, their credibility is none existent.

    I urge all of you who are proud to be a Pioneer let the Chancellor and the Board know your feelings.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I spent a chunk of time yesterday scanning the Chancellor’s releases during the past three years and do not recall one instance of her referring to DU Pioneers or Pioneers. Not one. The word ‘pioneer’ was used a couple times, but not referring to our nickname. This is a glaring and obviously purposeful omission in official proclamations. Although I couldn’t find it, I could swear I saw an announcement by the Chancellor during the last year, maybe two, announcing hiring a consulting or PR firm regarding how to brand DU going forward. I cannot now find this to prove it, but I felt it was sketchy at the time. Anyone else remember this?

    Liked by 2 people

  13. If a Branding Consulting Firm was being hired, “Pioneers” would of certainly been on the “Chopping” Block. Why? Because that’s what they would of been hired to do.

    Perhaps the branding effort was within the DU Impact 2025 Strategic Plan. I’m sure as Hell not going through that 30 page headache.

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  14. Five new points which prove collusion & deception:
    1) The same time last April that we heard of the rumors to eliminate ‘Pioneers’, Denver Boone was asked to leave an official DU sponsored pregame party – the first time ever.
    2) The USG always has a faculty adviser so the administration must have clearly known about the new student mascot being designed by the USG.
    3) We know that at minimum the USG had been working on a new Mascot since the Spring Quarter of last year from student sources. Also, the USG President refused two written requests to meet during the course of this past year to discuss the mascot situation – further hiding their intentions.
    4) We sent a letter to The Board last year regarding clarification on Pioneers nickname – with no response.
    5) Vice Chancellor for Campus Life and inclusive Excellence Liliana Rodriguez issued a letter with the following on January 16, 2017 which reads, “(Denver Boone) is offensive to many, and represents potential risks to safety. Our leadership team is committed to developing procedures that ensure that our past decisions regarding mascots are respected (Full leadership team is leading this effort”. This proves collusion, knowledge and forethought – a full year before the mask ban went into effect. The Chancellor, Provost Greg Kvistad and Senior Adviser to the Chancellor and Provost on Diversity & Inclusion Frank Tuitt were all copied on the Rodriguez letter.

    Like

    1. Thanks Jay. Your voice is important. Be sure to also send a copy of that same letter to boardoftrustees@du.edu. The lack of transparency is troubling – especially with alumni left out of the loop for over a year while the university was orchestrating their attack on Denver Boone & Pioneers.

      Like

  15. I thought Pioneers were “trailblazers.” Can you imagine the the wardrobe and jogging jokes you can look forward to if our name changes?

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  16. “the USG President refused two written requests to meet during the course of this past year to discuss the mascot situation.” It is obvious that the fix was in. The decision had been made and no input was needed. Reminds me of the way banana republics are governed.

    “We sent a letter to The Board last year regarding clarification on Pioneers nickname – with no response.” So much for inclusion.

    “Vice Chancellor for Campus Life and inclusive Excellence Liliana Rodriguez issued a letter with the following on January 16, 2017 which reads, “(Denver Boone) is offensive to many, and represents potential risks to safety.” So exactly how many is “many”? Is it 10 people, is it 1,000 people? Who are the people that are offended? Are they students, faculty, alumni, staff? Why are they offended? Are the majority of people surveyed offended? Who did they survey? Was there even a survey taken? Who did you share the results of your findings with? Were any alumni contacted?

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  17. Great points Miller. This additional detail clearly shows a hidden agenda and intent. All with no regard for alumni. The letter discovered from Rodriquez is the ‘smoking gun’. And not a single effort to engage alumni!!!!

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  18. The revised article shows a “smoking gun” letter and proof of collusion. Check the ‘alert’ at the bottom of the article. I am pissed and disappointed. Total lack of transparency!!!! Never a phone call. No ‘inclusion’ So this is how DU treats alumni. AWFUL…..

    Like

  19. So to recap for those joining the party late…

    You have administrators & faculty encouraging students to execute a Smear Campaign against “Genocidal Pioneers” “DU was built on stolen Indian Lands” the Denver Boone mascot costume & DU founder John Evans.

    And apparently side deals being made with the Undergraduate Student Government on a new school nickname & mascot.

    And it all gets kicked of with a Mask Ban. You cant spell “DUMB” without #endDUMaskBan

    Liked by 1 person

  20. DG I would add REALLY,REALLY STUPID to your above dumb .

    A good analogy is when someone or an organization screws up and then continually lies with all kind of excuses. When the smoke finally clears they pay much more for their cover up lies than they would have if they came clean and admitted their actions.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Really diggin’ on the Blazers thing man, y’know? Totally totally big fan of Clyde the Glide, Original Mountain Man is my spirit bear and I’m even growing out the Rick Adelman ‘stache y’know? Love Portland man, love Portland… wait, what? Denver? Solid bud. …What, Blazers moved? Not cool man, not cool at all. First the Sonics, now the…College? I’m confused.

    Liked by 2 people

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