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University of Denver looking for a new mascot that isn't Denver Boone

denver boone 205x205.jpg
The University of Denver Pioneers have always had that fighting spirit -- but lately, much of the fight has focused on the school's long-defunct mascot, a bearded, coonskin-cap-wearing cartoon character named Denver Boone, which was designed by a Walt Disney artist and served as the school's official mascot for thirty years. In 1998, DU administrators decided to do away with Boone after some students pointed out that Denver Boone was modeled on Daniel Boone, and represented a way of life that resulted in the destruction of many Native American tribes and the deaths of thousands.

A decade later, other students and some alumni petitioned to bring Boone back. Chancellor Robert Coombe created a committee to examine the idea -- and ultimately rejected it. But DU did say that groups could continue to use the character's likeness, and Boone came back on an unofficial basis a few years ago.

But the hard feelings haven't gone away, either. And at a filming of a DU "Harlem Shake" video for YouTube (above) at the end of February that featured Boone, those feelings resurfaced -- and three students "became pretty confrontational" in their protests of the not-mascot, the school said.

Yesterday the Chancellor's Office sent out a message clarifying the non-official status of Boone -- and supporting student efforts to adopt a new mascot:

Dear Members of the DU Community:

All of us at DU are committed to inclusive excellence in everything that we do, as it is a major goal for the University as a whole. It's important that we all support that goal in our actions, in our words, and in the images we associate with our community. Over the last few weeks there has been considerable controversy surrounding the "Denver Boone" figure that was our mascot some years ago. I am writing to you today in the hope of adding some clarity to this discussion, in particular regarding the University's position on the matter.

As you may know, "Boone" has not been the mascot of the University since 1998, and we currently do not have an official mascot. An effort to resurrect Boone was mounted by student and alumni groups in 2008, and this led to the assembly of a University committee to gather opinion from different sectors and consider the matter at length. It quickly became clear that Boone was a polarizing figure that did not reflect the growing diversity of the DU community, but rather was an image that many women, persons of color, international students and faculty members found difficult to relate to as defining the pioneering spirit. Consequently I decided at that time that Boone would not be our official mascot. The current Boone figure that is seen at athletic events is in keeping with language in a letter that I sent to the community in 2008 that allows students and alumni groups to use the image as a celebration of the past, to the extent they may choose. The figure is not used in any official manner by the University, nor do we provide any financial support for its use by others. The person in the Boone costume at athletic events is a ticket holder, and nothing more.

The Undergraduate Student Government has taken up this matter and formed a task force that will move forward with research into the possibilities for a new mascot, specifically one that reflects our identity as the Pioneers but also the growing diversity of our community and its inclusive and welcoming nature. The task force will not be evaluating support for Boone, as that matter is closed; rather, it will be looking toward a new mascot that everyone can get behind and embrace. The University has offered its support to the task force through its office of Marketing and Communications. USG plans to engage in this effort through spring quarter, with a recommendation to be forwarded to my office and the Board of Trustees. At its meeting in late February, USG voted to phase out funding from student activities fees used by clubs or student groups for materials bearing the Boone image, effective 30 days after the adoption of a new official mascot. This is a great move forward.

I believe that the action by USG provides a tremendous opportunity to accelerate our progress toward inclusive excellence. As we mount a productive conversation about a new mascot, I hope our thoughts will be forward-looking and reflective of the University that we are to become, rather than the University that we were decades ago. Ten years from now, our student population will be vastly more diverse than it is now, in a way that represents tremendous intellectual potential for the institution as a whole. The real question is whether as a community we will be vastly more inclusive than we are now, with our images and icons, and our mascot, reflective of that rich diversity and inclusiveness. We should challenge ourselves to look to that future.

Robert Coombe

The Chancellor "is supporting the efforts of students who came to him and asked to study having a mascot," reports spokeswoman Kim DeVigil. "I applaud the students for their initiative and desire to truly show their commitment to build on inclusive excellence-- even in the way they celebrate their school spirit."

This isn't DU's only study of past conflicts. DeVigil reports that the university has begun to meet with leaders to discuss founder John Evans's role in the Sand Creek Massacre, "to do something together that would be significant, positive and healing for everyone." The school was founded in 1864, the same year that Colonel John Chivington, a colleague of then-Territorial Governor Evans, killed at least 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho camped at Sand Creek. Northwestern University, which was co-founded by Evans before he moved West, has already undertaken a similar study.

From the Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "A century and a half later, the wounds of Sand Creek are still fresh."

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32 comments
lateeda
lateeda

So 3 students have hijacked the entire University? 

captaincoconut
captaincoconut

How about a rainbow colored unicorn, dressed as a Tibetan monk, speaking Swahili, that stomps the shit out of white males of European extraction?  Is that inclusively excellent enough for all?

Hpuz
Hpuz

Wow, Bretton seems to have some real jealousy issues towards DU.  Sorry, buddy.  Maybe someday the po-po will crack down on those naughty DU students to make you happy.

On the topic:  the opponents of Boone have not set forth why a cartoony smiling Disney-designed character is offensive.  I guess DU is supposed to abandon its history if a few people are offended by anything.  Really silly, and the chancellor is taking the cowardly route here.


Arlie Kendall
Arlie Kendall

How about an animated dollar bill? They could cal him, ya know, Dollar Bill. *_*

jmpmk2
jmpmk2

Dear Defenders of Native American Culture,

Please refrain from bearing shamrocks and dressing in green this coming weekend, as it is offensive that anyone outside of my Irish-American heritage celebrate the fruits of my ancestor's culture.  Or, you know, get fucked up on green beer and relish the serendipitous nature of so many different backgrounds uniting under a single, brilliant melting pot to celebrate our favorite traditions with each other.


Your choice.

Bretton Dutch Seyfarth
Bretton Dutch Seyfarth

@ Mark Sanders: You'll be hard pressed to find very many people who are fans of DU in south Denver. Good for you for making $16K last year but what does that have to do with what I said about DU's Campus Police making sure students are protected from getting arrested when they break the law. I grew up here and remember when DU was a great school that graduated great students who went on to do great things. Those days seem to be gone. The drunk blonde girl is what represents DU to the majority of the general public in south Denver sorry

Lindsey Asselin
Lindsey Asselin

The honey badger keeps going back for more, he don't care, he's crazy

Don Finley
Don Finley

Since the early pioneers here in Colorado were all gold miners, I suggest a scraggely old gold panner!

Lindsey Asselin
Lindsey Asselin

ewwhh, whats that, the honey badger is eating that blonde girl in short shorts, nasty, he don't give a shit, how disgusting

Lindsey Asselin
Lindsey Asselin

The honey badger can eat all day, its nasty, he don't care

David Kotzebue
David Kotzebue

Our first pioneers were French trappers, so Pepe Le Pew.

Dev Adams
Dev Adams

Boone. Seriously, just bring back Boone.

Josh Court
Josh Court

There you go Bretton, one student is a spoiled drunk so none of them can be.

Doug Hubka
Doug Hubka

How about the Monopoly guy on the Chance cards with the top hat & tails. That would fit DU.

Lisa Wolf DeWitt
Lisa Wolf DeWitt

people have too much time on their hands...they just assume a connection between Daniel Boone & Denver Boone. I think the Boone character is a great tie-in with the "Pioneers" and they should reinstate him as mascot. Getting a little carried away with this political correctness. Otherwise, maybe just change his headgear to a cowboy hat. But I guess they led to the destruction of Indians too.

Mark Sanders
Mark Sanders

I made $16k last year, Bretton. And I'm a DU student. PS my parents don't pay for my schooling. So... Check yourself, brah.

Bretton Dutch Seyfarth
Bretton Dutch Seyfarth

hey Westword investigative reporters, here's a news tip: The Campus Police at DU routinely prevent students from getting arrested by Denver Police for shoplifting, public intoxication, underage drinking, illegal prescription pill & narcotics possession, and using fake ID's. The double standard for DU students compared to the citizens in the neighborhood is shocking and needs to stop. Ask any business owner around Evans & University and you will get TONS of stories about how these spoiled rich kids get away with the most atrocious things that would put a normal person behind bars.

Ed Haas
Ed Haas

A Bronco? Not kidding.

Bretton Dutch Seyfarth
Bretton Dutch Seyfarth

the new mascot should a be drunk blonde girl in short shorts, ugg boots, and a DU tank top

bugsycook
bugsycook

How about "East Coast Spoiled Frat Brat"

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

How about "Fight'n Injun"?

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Arlie Kendall I was wondering when someone would make a suggestion like yours. Thanks for the post, Arlie.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@davebarnes I'm guessing that one probably won't make the grade. Thanks for the post, Dave.

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