|(above) Coombe Daddy ain't giving up on his dream to give DU a crappy 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.