We wrote on Thursday, January 11th about the collusion between DU senior leadership, staff members, and student groups to ban unofficial mascot Denver Boone and to potentially also change the school nickname from ‘Pioneers’ to ‘Trailblazers’. Yesterday, a source provided us with a copy of a January 2017 letter which is a “smoking gun” proving that this collusion reached to the highest levels of the University. We’ve provided this handy chart that outlines the key players in the scheme, and what we know to be true so far about their roles.
The letter from Dr. Liliana Rodriguez, University of Denver Vice-Chancellor for Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence, and Dr. Frank Tuitt, Sr. Advisor to the Chancellor and Provost on Diversity and Inclusion, and copied to Chancellor Rebecca Chopp and Provost Gregg Kvistad, states that DU’s “[DU’s] Full Leadership Team” is “committed to developing procedures to ensure that our past decisions regarding mascots are respected.” We feel safe in interpreting that as: “using whatever procedure DU can come up with to eliminate Boone.” The letter had been written in response to student demands following the Free Speech Wall/Black Lives Matter events of 2016/17.
It apparently took almost a year for the “full leadership team” to develop their new “procedure” in secret. In December, 2017, Renell Wynn, Vice Chancellor for Communications, called a handful of select alumni to advise them of a new “mask” policy — and not for input, but as a fait accompli. The disingenuous mask policy had been “developed”, exactly as Dr. Rodriguez and Dr. Tuitt had promised, and featured Orwellian-like language changes on the DU web site between mid-December and January 1, 2018 when it became official. The policy, deviously couched as a campus safety issue, was proven to be directed squarely at Boone when DU Campus Safety chief Don Enloe revealed that mascots from other schools would actually be permitted on campus under the new policy (while Boone would be banned).
Based on what we’ve heard, seen and read, we believe Dr. Rodriguez, Dr. Tuitt and Wynn are the likely three “ringleaders” of this anti-Boone, anti-Pioneer scheme. All three are senior leaders at DU, and none of the three attended DU as students, so it’s unlikely that any of the three have much emotional investment in DU’s school traditions. In fact, of the highest-ranking people on our chart, only Board Chair Doug Scrivner has a student connection to DU, as a DU law school graduate.
Getting back to the 2017 letter, it’s fascinating that while Dr. Rodriguez and Dr. Tuitt refer to “safety” in the letter, the Boone character had been making appearances on campus and around the country since 2009, without a single safety incident. Indeed, the 2017 letter clarifies that new procedures were being developed not for safety purposes, but to ensure “respect” for past decisions. The most recent public Boone-related decision we know of, however, is former Chancellor Robert Coombe’s 2008 ruling that while Boone would not be the official mascot of the University, students and alumni could use Boone’s image “to the extent that they may choose”. It’s clear that the current senior administration’s determination to develop procedures to ban Boone must stem from other “decisions” (if they indeed exist), perhaps again made in secret.
The pre-planning, the input and approval of top leadership at the Chancellor and Board of Trustees level, and the covert year-long creation of the anti-Boone “procedure” without input from alumni demonstrates the depth of the collusion with regard to the so-called “mask” policy.
It appears the same type of covert planning and coordination may have gone into the idea of dropping the Pioneer nickname.
We’re digging for more information on that topic and we’ll report back soon…
If you are as outraged as we are about the devious mask ban, the cover-up of its real anti-Boone purpose, and DU’s blatant exclusion of its alumni in these events, please reach out to email@example.com, and cc your note to firstname.lastname@example.org.