Monday, May 02, 2005

Dealing Honestly with the “Warriors” Issue (But Not at Marquette)

What happens when a state university (of all things) in California (of all places) finds its Indian Warrior mascot under attack by the forces of political correctness? At San Diego State University, they dealt with the issue in a straightforward way. The San Diego Union Tribune (December 12, 2003) tells the story:
A new mascot was born yesterday at San Diego State University. Eighty-three percent of students and alumni have elected a historically accurate, loincloth-wearing Aztec Warrior mascot to cheer on their Aztec athletes.

. . .

Weber acknowledged that the vote will not bring an end to the school’s long and racially charged mascot controversy.

It was that dispute, which began three years ago, that officially killed the university’s “Monty Montezuma” mascot in 2001 and propelled SDSU into a national debate over whether it was racially trivializing to indigenous cultures to use them as sports mascots.

. . .

During the SDSU mascot election, held Dec. 3-5, officials divided three constituencies into two separate groups: students who voted entirely via the Internet, and 12,000 members of the alumni association plus 2,000 members of the SDSU Athletic Foundation who voted as a combined group. The election results would be binding only if the majority of both groups voted the same way, officials said.

The results announced yesterday showed that 78.3 percent, or 7,731, of the students voted yes, and 21.7 percent, or 2,142, voted no. With nearly 10,000 students voting, the turnout was five times higher than for the average student election, officials said.

Among alumni, 88.4 percent, or 4,186, voted in favor of the mascot, while 11.6 percent, or 551, opposed it.
Of course, there is no reason to believe that Marquette students and alumni would have voted any differently, if given the choice.

So, to review the situation, at San Diego State University there was a dispute over the mascot.
  1. The University took a poll of students and alumni
  2. The University publicly announced the results of the poll
  3. The University stood up to the forces of political correctness
  4. The University abided by the wishes of students and alumni, and adopted a new, historically correct, Indian mascot.
And Indian symbols are now proudly displayed on the athletics page of SDSU.

Marquette: Incessant Manipulation

So how has Marquette dealt with this issue? With an incessant campaign to bias the dialogue against the “Warriors” nickname.

First, Marquette announced it was going to do a survey of students, faculty and alumni. But the survey turned out to be thoroughly dishonest. Not only did it fail to ask respondents whether they favored “Warriors” or “Golden Eagles,” the questions were biased in an obvious attempt to get people to reject “Warriors.”

But apparently this did not suffice to get the desired results, since the data from the survey have been concealed from the public and the University community.

Another example of University manipulation occurred when a left-leaning student organization, JUSTICE, sponsored a forum featuring Indian activists on December 1, 2004.

The forum was entirely one-sided, with all the speakers opposed to the use of “Warriors.” No Indians who favor Indian nicknames (such as the Seminole tribe in Florida) nor any of the 80 percent of rank and file Indians who see nothing wrong with such nicknames was included.

One expects such from JUSTICE, but this particular forum was given unprecedented hype in the “News Briefs” sent out by the Office of Public Affairs. It was mentioned not once, not twice, but three times – on November 24, again on November 29, and finally on December 1.

No event hosted by a student organization has ever been given this much publicity in “News Briefs.” Some people assumed that the Office of Student Development actually sponsored the event, but not only were they not listed as a sponsor, Natalie Gross of OSD flatly denies that any OSD money was used to subsidize the event.

It’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that Public Affairs was hyping this event because they found the viewpoint presented to their liking.

Conclusion

Marquette may have felt that, by going through the motions of reconsidering the “Warriors” issue that alumni and students could be placated. They appear to be preparing to say “we gave this full and honest consideration, and – sorry folks – Warriors failed.”

But nobody is going to be placated, because the issue didn’t get real consideration. Rather, Marquette tried to manipulate the process from the very beginning. The University would have been better off flatly stonewalling the issue rather than engaging in a dishonest charade.

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