Puck Swami: A Great Victory for Pioneer Fans, but Big Challenges Still Remain

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We at LetsGoDU were delighted with yesterday’s news that the DU Chairman of the Board of Trustees had sent an email to at least one alumnus announcing that the Pioneer nickname was staying, and inviting the alumnus to share the news. DU also came out with a new internet home page, which reads “We are University of Denver. We are Denver Pioneers”. While these are certainly significant, it is notable that home pages are (obviously) easily changed, and an email to one alumnus is not the same as a public statement. We continue to encourage the Chancellor and Board of Trustees to make a more declarative public statement that can be pointed to in the future. Indeed, with all the communications tools and administrative staff in DU’s arsenal, it is clear they should not have to rely on an alumnus to share their statement.

Still, we are delighted with DU’s preliminary steps.

Our sources tell us that the threat to the Pioneer name was not only quite real, but very imminent. LetsGoDU had to move very quickly to find its voice and to tell this story, be dogged and determined throughout, and had to work very hard to help our readership to respond in an effective way. Thank you to the team of experienced communicators who got this story out, and to all of you readers for responding and letting the administration become aware of the power of Pioneer alumni and fans.

We don’t know how long the name will stay Pioneers, but this will serve as a powerful reminder that any future change to our nickname will be met with overwhelming opposition.

It also will serve as a different kind of reminder to DU – that in the age of social media and nearly instant two-way communications, it is unwise for DU administrators to attempt these kinds of major identity changes without alumni involvement. It’s no secret that many of the DU senior leadership team avoided interacting with us. Either they underestimated the level of passion that we alumni and DU sports fan have about our school identity, or they didn’t want to hear it. Hopefully, this episode has helped them learn that they need to reach out to us the right way, instead of excluding us.

And LetsGoDU and its readers have reminded them that we’re all watching what they do and how they do it, and when they mess up this badly, they will get called out.

But frankly, this is no time to gloat. We still have many issues with the DU administration that need to be addressed going forward. To know that members of the Chancellor’s senior leadership team were actively undermining our Pioneer identity is still deeply concerning to us. We don’t think that should be in anyone’s DU job description.

We hope that there will now be some accountability for the arrogant overreach we have all witnessed. Inclusive Excellence has merit, but it needs to be practiced in an inclusive way that includes all of the DU community, not just for those who claim oppression. We hope DU will redirect those IE people who reductively sought to damage our traditions toward more productive concerns, such as outreach, scholarships, mentorships and opportunities. Senior administrators should never have a carte blanche to simply attack everything they don’t like, or to enlist students to work against the interests of the DU larger community. They should practice unity and not division.

Secondly, the additional allegations of DU senior leadership team malfeasance regarding the anti-Boone “mask” policy has left that policy exposed and without any moral credibility. Accordingly, we hope that the Board of Trustees will revisit the policy during their meetings this week. In light of the disingenuousness LetsGoDU exposed, and the shady back story of how it was created for reasons other than safety, as well as the surge of alumni goodwill that can be anticipated if the policy is revoked, we hope the Board will rescind this debunked policy. The sooner the Board throws it out, or at least makes an exception for a vetted Boone, the more credibility they will gain with their largest audience.

Finally, the appearance of administrative deceit, honor code violations by high level DU administrators and staff, and the ignoring of alumni and fans in this process are hugely concerning to all of us. We hope DU will use what it has learned to clean up its house so that we can trust our university again.

It should be known and remembered that we didn’t choose this fight. We became forced to fight for our 93-year-old Pioneer identity when we were betrayed by our leadership. DU is a much better place today as than it was a few weeks ago, and while we hated revealing some of the things we were forced to reveal, we know that we were right to do it. University employees who lived in fear of the University’s Inclusive Excellence shadow have reached out to us to let us know how thankful they are to us, as they lived in fear of retribution if they spoke out. Indeed, this would be a very good time to look at IE in a much more critical way. For all the good things that it can create, there is a dark side to it that stunts free speech, kills diversity of thought and, apparently, can turn capable administrators into seditious community-dividers.

We look forward to the healing that must take place, but we also remind everyone that we should never have to experience dishonesty, malfeasance and deception from our own leaders.

We hope that DU will work hard to restore our confidence following the betrayals we have experienced as this episode has unfolded.

We also hope that the Board of Trustees will address the contents of this column in their meetings, and will take the actions it needs to take.

DU needs to be better, and we all play a part in that.

Puck Swami is the Internet moniker of a long-time DU fan and alumnus. Her shares his views periodically here at LetsGoDU.

 

 

19 thoughts on “Puck Swami: A Great Victory for Pioneer Fans, but Big Challenges Still Remain”

  1. Kudos to LGDU on the hard work! Job well done.

    The Pioneers nickname is the perfect fit for this institution due to its inherent flexibility in meaning. It is a name that ensures possibility and malleable to different frontiers, adaptable to any sector.

    Pioneers is the perfect fit for the University as it relates to its founding, as well as to its present and future as a university that embraces the technological, demographic, and geographic change of the region, nation, and world at large.

    Pioneers is apt as the nickname for the namesake university of an exploding U.S. city charging hard for first-tier status. We are leaders as an anchor institution in one of the fastest growing regions in the U.S. With this growth in our midst, we will naturally be a more diverse, inclusive, and improved place of higher education; striving to be Pioneers in our endeavors.

    We encompass all of what is and was a Pioneer and are not content to be just one component that serves a narrow interest of the institution. Embrace Pioneers forever.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is clear that the lack of ‘diverse thought’ at the University of Denver risks both private and public damage to the University’s mission.
We need to support the DU Faculties efforts to introduce UNIVERSITY OF DENVER STATEMENT OF POLICY AND PRINCIPLES ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. Without going into great deal, the stated intent of the document is “establishing a community that promotes a culture of robust debate and open dialogue
about a wide range of issues across a number of different campus venues.” The document goes on to state, “Academic discourse and higher order learning cannot take place in an environment in which individuals are not at liberty to express their thoughts and ideas, however controversial or provocative.” This 6-page document protects and allows students, professors and administrators to have more open, honest dialog. It is clear that there is an echo chamber on the DU campus and it must stop – or there will be damage to the schools most important asset, it’s students.


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  3. I am in favor of inclusivity, but it is almost like the University is going out of its way to make that its guiding mission. Instead of headlines about how “DU is getting its most qualified and selective class ever,” DU puts out headlines about “DU is getting it’s most diverse class ever.” We’re all in favor of diversity, but DU would be well served by not letting the tail wag the dog. In terms of freedom of expression, that should go without saying. It’s an unfortunate climate now, where people can’t say what they want for fear of offending the most egg-shell thin sensitivities. Boone is just one example of that, but I think a very good example. I personally don’t think that a gun-totin’ agressive mascot is appropriate or desirable, but that’s not what Boone is.

    At least we have the Pioneer name, but I do hope that the self-examination continues, and that this race to be the most diverse and non-offensive gets slowed down a bit with some rationale thought that isn’t fear-driven (i.e., the FEAR TO OFFEND.)

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  4. doesn’t it kinda seem like the trailblazer thing was all smoke & mirrors to make alums not care about losing boone as much? the fact that it wasnt registers means it was never really gonna happen and no one is mad about boone anymore since “at least they kept pioneers!”

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  5. The above theory re the smoke and mirrors is worth thinking about. , But that would take some Machiavellian orchestration that I sincerely hope the university does not have the time or inclination to do. But I grant you, that the keeping of the Pioneers name does take some of the heat off of DU for the mask policy.

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  6. Has everyone seen Ms Chopp’s ‘Chancellor’s Report 2017’ ?
    It sounds like she went to the mountains to find herself.
    I think she failed.
    Her email opens up by saying: ‘We are Pioneers.’
    She is not, and never will be, a Pioneer.
    Lest we forget, she led the charge to strip us of our heritage.
    She and her senior administration still have the same agenda.
    We can’t back down. Now let’s all fight to bring back Boone!

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  7. We’ve got to STAY active. Let them know that we are here and not going away.
    This Lets Go D.U. blog is the main vehicle that keeps us current in this effort.. There are individual conversations, E Mail exchanges, social gatherings, etc. but this site brings it all together.
    If contributions are ever needed to improve it even further count me in.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. The Board of Trustees meeting starts tonight. The best thing you can do right now is ask DU’s board members to reject the Boone policy, which we all know was not based on safety – boardoftrustees@du.edu

    I am sure they guys at LetsGODU could still chase this but I think they’ve probably said pretty much all there is to say by now. They probably don’t want to sound like a broken record.

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  9. The Pioneer email by Scrivner & the comments by Chopp are a huge step in the right direction.

    The Board of Trustees meet on Friday. I would hope that a few seconds would be spent on Pioneer Identity & WTF went down in the past two weeks. And if Board members asked the Chancellor a question or two about the DU Mask Ban that would be a bonus. But I won’t hold my breath.

    Many have asked if the “Trailblazer Fiasco” was a diversion or a hoax.

    Nope, it was a sloppy plan hatched by the Administration in early October that attempted to show that Native American students on campus were offended & uncomfortable with the Pioneer nickname.

    Then they rallied other minority student groups together to support their cause under the banner of Inclusive Excellence.

    Presumably Chopp took these concerns to individual Board members in recent weeks or months.

    Several years ago Chopp had asked the Board about the Pioneer nickname and was told, “The time wasn’t right.”

    Since the initial rebuke from the BOTs, Chopp had raised a ton of money and obviously felt the time was right to go for the jugular.

    And she would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for our meddling Alumni.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. We need to be vigilant. The problem is a lack of ‘diverse opinions’. The BOT needs to push for some balance. And, the hyper-focus on diversity and inclusiveness takes away from the mission of the University – develop the best possible students. I don’t care if they are white, Asian, Native American, or Hispanic. Just grow and develop the best students so they can go out and get a job and contribute to society. Stop the social engineering. And rein in that Inclusive Excellence crew – they are a cancer to the school. The school honor and conduct code should handle most of this without the need for inclusive excellence policemen to tell everyone how to act and behave. And their salaries must be ridiculous. Lets use the cuts to lower tuition – PLEASE.

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  11. Vigilant indeed. I don’t think this story is over yet. Let’s see if anything tangible changes after tomorrow’s Board Meeting. The Board can’t be very happy over how this played out. “Inclusive Excellence” fans on the board may be upset if they were promised changes that didn’t happen. Pioneer and Boone fans on the Board could be upset at the overreach, lying and bumbling. We’ll also see if there are any changes in policies and/or personnel as a result of this episode, or reactions on the ground by IE people.

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  12. Hardly ‘rich white’ – this was grass-roots DU alumni speaking in one voice. And not a win either. Boone is still ‘banned’ and DU kept a pre-existing 93 year nickname. Never about race in my opinion. Diversity and inclusion should be additive and not about ‘taking things away’.

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    1. Rich White People Win Again?

      You should rethink your stereotyping.

      Most of the people I know who were fighting for our DU traditions are fighting for everyone who values Pioneers, and it has nothing to do with anyone’s skin color or economic status. We welcome everyone who wants to be part of our 93 years of tradition. Pioneers represent all ends of the racial and economic spectrum. We also represent every kind of ethnicity, orientation and religion, too. If you went to DU or just cheer for us, you are a Pioneer, too.

      Like

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