Thursday, March 14, 2013

Coombe Sends Out Another Email Ripping Boone

(above) Coombe Daddy ain't giving up on his dream to give DU a crappy mascot
March 13, 2013

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

33 comments:

Jordan said...

This letter says nothing new, nor does it clarify anything. As could be expected.

dggoddard said...

Coombe Daddy provides no data to back up his central claim that "Boone is a polarizing figure that does not reflect the growing diversity of the DU community, but rather is an image that many women, persons of color, international students and faculty members find difficult to relate to as defining the pioneering spirit."

I think most would agree that Boone is very popular among women, persons of color, international students and faculty.

Certainly Boone is more popular than he is on campus. I think he believes that if he keeps repeating the bullshit often enough others will start believing it as well.

That's irrefutable.

Brendan Loy said...

My take: http://milehighmids.tumblr.com/post/45325353718/chancellor-boone-issue-closed-mascot-polarizing.

As you say, nothing new, right down to the failure to explain anything. All assertion, no attempt at explanation.

I published the questions I sent to Sam Estenson and Jozer Guerrero. Maybe somebody will answer them...

Bruce Hil said...

As a former DU hockey player I never saw the 'Boone' as a polarizing figure. In fact, it has been one of the only identity that has been seen as 'the mascot' who has been rallying students. The 'Boone' represents courage, strength and to never give up. Guess those qualities are prized anymore.

We can't honor American heroes? Or that is it that his skin is white? Well, I think that's a racist statement in itself that a hero that represents courage, honor, and perseverance can't represent our university. Well, maybe we can make his skin green, or yellow, or something, but god forbid it be white, it wouldn't be politically correct! The only one creating the big concern is the University itself who for some reason did a 'OMG' moment and think they
'might' be offending someone. What they don't realize is that the only ones that they are offending is the students that don't get a voice and who want the Boone.

dggoddard said...

A point of clarification Bruce.

The Boone mascot costume was designed by a company in Canada and they recommended that the skin tone be "ethnically ambiguous."

"Pioneers" of all races settled the west and the alumni, students & fans who funded this project wanted that represented in the costume.

Anonymous said...

"We should challenge ourselves to look to that future."

I challenge Coombe to look for any future donations from me. My donations will only go to my kid's schools for now on.


miller said...

You know you have to wonder what Coombe and the majority of the staff and faculty at DU would do if they ever had to go out into the real world.

DG, you are so correct, he provides no data to support his claim.

I think he was hoping that Boone would go quietly into the night, but a number of students and alumni were not going to let this happen.

A couple of years ago I was taking Light Rail out of downtown and sat next to him. When I brought up the subject of Boone he didn't want to discuss it. He said the decision had been made and that was the end of it. In other words, he could not support his position.

I promise you Boone is not going quietly into the night. I get a smile every time I walk into Magness and see Boone on the mural.

dggoddard said...

I think you'd find a surprising number of faculty & staff support Boone over any other type of mascot. Perhaps even a majority, but Coombe and his multiculutral thugs have made any public discussion of this subject taboo to talk about.

dggoddard said...

I'll be the first to admit that a mascot issue/battle/discussion or whatever the Hell we are going through with Coombe and a handful of administrators at DU is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. But it does point up several major flaws with "our" university.

1). Coombe's leadership style

2). Inaccessibility and accountability of DU's Board of Trustees

3). Coombe's & his support staff's judgment

4). Lack of cohesion between the student body and the school's leadership

5). Mismanagement of multicultural issues and priorities on campus

6). Lack of alumni involvement, interest and influence on campus

7). The university's handling of legitimate questions and concerns raised by the public

To me these issues and many others can be easily fixed with a new leadership team running the university.

Should Coombe be fired for getting rid of Boone? Of course not. But management issues brought to light by this situation should be examined.

Unlike in 2008, when Coombe might have been given the benefit of the doubt for leading DU into this minefield, in 2013 he knew exactly where he was steering the train.

Mike Eidelbes said...

Mike Eidelbes

As someone who went to a high school with a Native American nickname and mascot (since changed), I understand the LEGITIMATE reasons for changing nicknames and/or mascots. Which is why the Boone fiasco is so frustrating -- seems like the reasoning behind blackballing Boone is Coombe saying, "Because I said so."

Donald Dunlop said...

Mike,
If you consider for a moment that the University of Denver is significantly not diverse then I'd think you'd understand that actions which rabid white boys (all those posting above) decry might actually be necessary to make the minority feel included.

This is all Coombe is trying to do. DG's hyperbole is just a reflection of his personal frustration having guessed that if he bankrolled the effort to bring back Boone that in time it would gain acceptance from the administration either by populism of the character or simply wearing them down.

Mascots are dumb. The Boone mascot is the dumbest of the dumb. A bearded little cartoon boy transformed into a ridiculous caricature of some non-existent white man that carved out the Colorado wilderness single-handedly? It's lauaghable to most normal people.

If DG wanted to improve his alma mater perhaps he should be encouraging them to work for a more ethnically and racially diverse student population. Oh wait ... yeah that ain't gonna happen. Rich White Boy Schools don't ever change.

Anonymous said...

"Mascots are dumb. The Boone mascot is the dumbest of the dumb."


Hey Donald, please explain, what's a seawolf? Because a made up animal seems to be the "dumbest of the dumb" to me.

Anonymous said...

Assigning a task force the criteria that a mascot should "reflect the growing diversity" of a school seems like something only someone who has no appreciation for the role of mascots or athletics in general could dream up.

Almost none of the most popular U.S. school mascots make any attempt to meet this criteria, most likely because their schools have recognized its impossibility. Click through this list and see how many do: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/505613-the-50-best-mascots-in-college-football

Unless a school has multiple mascots or a mascot family it seems physically challenging for a single mascot to reflect multiple genders, ethnicities, cultures, etc. in one figure. Recent Olympic committees with their sky-high budgets have ended up creating multiple mascots to overcome this hurdle with inevitably poor results.

Any good mascot should be very appealing to children, who seem to gravitate towards friendly, clearly defined characters that they can understand at a glance, not a complex statement of beliefs that leaves them confused or intimidated.

In the interest of being constructive it would be great to see commenters on this site and/or milehighmids develop a reasonable list of criteria by which to evaluate a school mascot and then apply those criteria to Boone as well as other existing and potential examples (Stanford Tree, Notre Dame Leprechaun, Baylor Bear, Uconn Huskie, Astronaut, etc.). As a parent and DU faculty member who is quite open to change I would love to be convinced that Boone fails on such criteria and that another character would be preferable. However to date I have not seen any evidence presented that is the case. This exercise would likely also reveal that mascot popularity cannot be distilled into an easy check list and that a school that has somehow found itself with a generally popular mascot figure should be realistic about the likelihood it can conjure up another.

Anonymous said...

Due to DU men's basketball the next 10 days could represent a key turning point in determining DU's mascot future. I can't think of any college sport where mascots are more prominent than college basketball, making it a completely different situation than college hockey where both the sport itself and its accompanying mascots have a far lower profile. If DU makes the WAC final and advances to the NCAA tournament, thousands of people will be exposed to Boone and will have a chance to come to their own conclusions about his appropriateness as the mascot of a private school of "growing diversity" based in Denver, Colorado with the team name Pioneers. Will DU receive complaints from the public, alumni and students over Boone's image and behavior during these events? Will the video footage of any of Boone's actions become YouTube and highlight show fodder due to their perceived inappropriateness or offensiveness? Has Ruckus been waiting for an NCAA tournament bid to reappear and win over Boone supporters? Or will Boone be viewed favorably by these stakeholders and further establish his role as a fictional cartoon representative of the university? Only time will tell!

Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with Boone as the DU mascot.....And I'm a CC fan!

Chelsea said...

My two cents, I'm a woman and I'm not offended and I have Indian blood in me and I'm not offended. I think the "many" statement needs to be assessed since I don't know any women who are offended by Boone because he's a male. Should we as women be offended by the ASU Sun Devils or the Duke Blue Devils because they are certainly male. What about Herbie Husker from Nebraska? Surely the statement made by Coombe would agree that all of those mascots are offensive and should be banned as well. This whole issue is so stupid.

dusimce59 said...

Your right no more donations to DU till this dope is gone.

Anonymous said...

Nothing against the idea of Boone as a mascot, but you gotta admit: the current incarnation of Boone is really lame. What's with those arms???

Anyway sounds like it's time to change his name to 'Biouxn'. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Donald, you say mascots are dumb, but then say they are important enough to make minorities feel excluded from the community. Which one is it? You make fun of us for caring about a mascot, but then defend the DU administration and minorities for caring about it. Again, which one is it?

You wanna know what's REALLY dumb, crying, shutting down your blog and then moving to Chicago because UAA took away your credentials. What a petty thing to make a hyperbole out of.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Boone supporter, but I will try my best to make a substantive argument for the anti-Boone crowd by looking back to the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision (disclaimer, I'm not a lawyer and have not ever studied this decision, google is my friend). I will also note, and all anti-Boone people should note as well, that the Supreme Court in its decision noted several specific reasons why separate but equal (Plessy vs. Ferguson) needed to be overturned. This is customary in our culture - if you are going to overturn a precedent, you need to detail your substantive reasons for doing so, not give some bs lip service about inclusiveness.

In Brown vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court noted that segregation has a detrimental affect on black people and gives them a sense of inferiority. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of children to learn. Therefore, segregation has a tendency to be detrimental to the educational and mental development of black children and deprive them of benefits they would receive in a racially integrated school system. To support this conclusion, the Supreme Court relied on several studies. The most famous of which was the Kenneth Clark study involving dolls that showed black children identified the black dolls as being "bad" while the white ones were "good".

Obviously, the Boone mascot issue is nowhere close to this magnitude and can be described as "dumb" like Donald Dumbfork chooses. However, perhaps students of Native American descent can argue that seeing DU represented by a Pioneer makes them feel inferior and, therefore, negatively impacts their experience at DU. Why should anyone have their experience at DU negatively affected by something as stupid and inconsequential as a mascot? We, as DU stakeholders, shouldn't care so much about a silly mascot that we negatively affect the DU experience of a small portion of the DU community.

I get that argument. I don't want to negatively affect the experience of anyone in the DU community. As a Boone supporter, what I don't get is, why doesn't DU care about negatively affecting my experience as a DU stakeholder? I like Boone and DU's history. I think a vast majority of people agree with me. I don't think that the image of Boone is comparable to the historic racism in America and why separate but equal needed to be overturned. I'm a liberal and always vote democratic, but it feels like this is liberalism gone too far.

DU needs to weigh various factors when deciding its course. (1) Obviously, we (as a country) owe a tremendous amount to Native Americans. We murdered them and destroyed their livelihood. Therefore, one Native American vote doesn't equal one "white" vote. Native Americans deserve a bigger vote. They've truly earned it. However, I don't know what that ratio is. 100:1; 1,000:1; one vote is enough -the atrocities are too great. (2) DU is a business, it needs to consider the financial impact of ticket sales, contributions, sales of its products, and future enrollment (3) DU has a history that we stakeholders are proud of and Boone is a part of. Is this a big enough issue to throw this history away? (4) ect. There's probably at least 7 other issues I'm not thinking of.

- I use the term "stakeholders" because that is what DU uses in its curriculum. It's a major concept in DCB and the values courses. DU recognizes and teaches that every decision you make affects all of your stakeholders. Not just your stockholders, but members of the community, current students, alumni, certain student demographic, etc.

In this situation, I don't feel like DU is practicing what they preach. I could be wrong, but like Brandon Loy says, show me why I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

I think its safe to say that Boone is the "Official Student Mascot" and regardless of all the shenanigans happening here, it really doesn't matter. The current unofficial Boone will continue to be supported at DU events (unofficially) and donations will continue to come from committed alumni as long as Damien and other committed Pro-Boone alumni and friends are around to keep it alive.

On another note, can you name a school that has dumped it's mascot, brought in another one, and then brought back it's old mascot? Maybe it's happened. I'm not sure if my point makes any sense but if you were the President of a University and made a decision after careful consideration about something, would you change your decision after 10 years? It would basically show weakness I think. Maybe I am wrong.

The White Sox mascot is a hairy fun mascot named Southpaw - has nothing to do with the White Sox. Then there are the Seawolves. What the hell is a Seawolf? Who cares what it is; it's a mascot that can never cause controversy EVER. Boone is white, he's masculine looking - we all know that. Point is, is that he won't be loveable forever - for now he is, but long term.......

Again, I'm Pro-Boone but "Unofficial Mascot" sounds way more rad.

Anonymous said...

Virtually of our ancestors were forced out of our homelands at some point in history. Native Americans were killing each other and taking land from other Native Americans well before Columbus got here. We're ALL frickin' guilty of conquest, and we're all victims, too.

Get over it. That's how history works, all over the world.

Honestly, if you can't accept that DU was founded by Western Pioneers, built by western pioneers, attended by the descendants of western pioneers and cheered as the "Pioneers" for the last 85+ years, perhaps you should consider going to school someplace else. Really. There are 3,000+ colleges in America, and there is bound to be one where you feel more comfortable.



Anonymous said...

DU leadership has bent over so far backwards so to please this tiny group of multicultural revisionists that we are starting to lose the very soul of our university...

Someday, I could see us dropping sports altogether, on the basis of the fact that the very spirit of competition might offend someone who loses a game. WTF?

When are the rest of us going to stand up to these assholes?

Anonymous said...

To Everyone: based on what I know from every board of trustee member, most if not all of the deans and a majority of students - they are against the likes of Boone. This is based on discussions over the last 2 weeks. While we can think we are a majority, we are mistaken. If we keep thinking that, we won't get anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Of course the Deans don't want Boone. Their bread is buttered by Chancellor Coombe. They aren't stupid. You don't fight your boss on something that small.

However, I very much doubt that majority of DU students are against Boone. Your "discussions" are just that - they can't prove how the student body actually feels unless you take a poll, and I am sure the administration wants no part of that

Certainly, the outward manifistations of student support for Boone (based on-line chatter and attendence at DU sports games) runs about 80-20 in favor, but those are only the the things we can see. I think there is clearly more anti-Boone feeling on campus since 2008, but I don't believe it's a majority.

The only way to know for sure is to take a vote.

dggoddard said...

I think at most mid-major universities [Rice, Tulane, New Mexico State], if you polled the fans around 33% like the mascot, 33% hate the mascot & 33% don't care.

At universities with strong athletic brands [WIS, MICH, BAMA, USC, Notre Dame] the numbers probably run 95% "like" and 5% Don't like/don't care.

Considering that DU has an "unofficial" mascot DU's fans, alumni & student numbers may be somewhere in between the mid-majors & the BCS big boys.

Anonymous said...

I find Boone to be hostile and abusive.

dggoddard said...

Noted.

One vote from North Dakota against Boone.

timt89 said...

I stand by my earlier recommendation in the Clarion. 'Jackalope' in recognition of a fast, stupid decision made by a bunch of jackasses. I think this is change that we can all get behind.

Jackalope is even more catchy then, say, Seawolves?

Anonymous said...

Donna the whore won't ever defend her statements. THAT is pathetic.

Unknown said...

Now that the Pope has retired and been replaced, isn't it time for Coombe to go?

Tim, class of '73, in Los Angeles

Anonymous said...

+1 on the above. Bob '72

Anonymous said...

The only way Coombe leaves is if he forced out by the Board of Trustees (BOT).

So far, the BOT has done nothing but support Coombe.

DU alumni and donors need to step up and let the Board know how we feel about Coombe..