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On Gender-Neutral Red-Tailed Hawks

October 20, 2008 - David Karnosky
Well, the first week of WCHA play is in the books. Denver and CC have already risen to the top with weekend sweeps of Wisconsin and Tech, respectively. Minnesota’s right there too, after winning both ends of their home-and-home with St. Cloud State.

There appear to be mixed emotions in Denver about the Pioneers’ weekend sweep of the Badgers. They had a thrilling rally to a 6-5 win Friday, then followed it up with a four-goal stampede to bust open what would be a 7-4 win Saturday. However, the DU Chancellor and Student Senate have both rejected a grass-roots movement to bring back “Denver Boone,” the university’s somewhat endearing Walt Disney-drawn mascot. This cartoon character with a coonskin cap and a smiley face was officially retired in 1999 in favor of Ruckus, a “gender-neutral red-tailed hawk.”

I’m not in favor of most Native American mascots. I lived the “hostile and offensive” rap. My alma mater’s athletic logo is a letter. But this flap appears to be rather overblown. Anti-Boonites claim the mascot is not gender-neutral and settlers like Daniel Boone, for whom the mascot is named, represent a oppressive past of white settlers against Native Americans. A quote from the DU Clarion (student newspaper) kind of sums it up.

"I don't know about you, but I would rather have a gender neutral bird as my mascot over a cartoon associated with the slow demise of the Native Americans here in our country," said Joe Borrego, a sophomore communications major.

If gender-neutrality is required, it’s definitely curtains for Minnesota State’s mascot, which definitely has horns, not to mention Bucky Badger and Goldy Gopher. Maybe they would brought back Boone if the folks at LetsGoDU (a DU hockey blog) donated millions of dollars to the university.

Because the university “caved,” LetsGoDU has proposed the Pioneers change their name to the GEICO Cavemen.



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