Undergraduate Student Government (USG) passed a resolution Tuesday night enacting a ban on the use of funds provided by USG to student organizations to purchase merchandise featuring the image of Boone. The ban will become effective 30 days after the School Mascot Task Force has “finalized, produced and approved, with administrative support, a new school mascot.”
The resolution also enacted an immediate ban on USG committees using funds to purchase merchandise with an image of Boone. Finance Committee, which funds student organizations, will pass separate bylaws to handle the ban when it takes effect for student organizations in a 30-day grace period.
The vote occurred during the normal USG meeting at 6 p.m. in Driscoll Underground and was attended by more than 50 students, faculty and alumni. Discussion was limited to two minutes of comment per person and final votes were cast by paper ballot counted by Carl Johnson, USG adviser and executive director of Student Activities, and announced to the audience.
Parker Calbert, USG vice president, moderated the discussion. She opened the discussion with a personal statement on behalf of herself and Student Body President, Sam Estenson.
“Sam and I were elected on platforms of inclusive excellence and on bridging gaps in school spirit. We do not see these as separate issues, but two goals we are working toward together,” said Calbert.
Estenson further explained his overarching goal for the transition away from Boone.
“This is going to be a long process, this is not going to happen overnight, but I challenge all of you find the enthusiasm to actively find a mascot that we can all rally around,” said Estenson.
The Resolution: summary of the new rule
The resolution stipulates in the 30 days between the finalization of the school mascot and the enactment of the funding ban, USG and the School Mascot Task Force “ will notify the student body of all policy changes, hold forums for student and student organizations to ask questions and other necessary steps to ensure a smooth transition.”
According to the resolution, after the transition period, any entity funded by USG that uses funds to purchase merchandise with the image of Boone may have their funds frozen “at the discretion of the Finance Committee and their perception of prior understanding of the rules and the severity of the situation.”
The resolution further stipulates that a student organization can have its licensing revoked by the Student Organizations Committee if it violates the resolution, and will have its student organization’s licensing revoked “without exception” after a second offense.
Four amendments were made to the final resolution. One amendment, suggested by commenter and alumnus Tim Healy, “acknowledges alumni support of Boone as a part of their history with the University of Denver, but recognizes that the campus climate has shifted.”
Three other amendments were suggested by Jake Muniz, Senator an amendment removing the requirement that USG fund the costume of the new mascot, the removal of Finance Committee as part of the USG committees immediately banned from funding Boone, and an addition that Finance Committee adopt bylaws that reflect the spirit of the resolution.The amendments were made to maintain the current structure by which Finance committee funds student organizations.
Another amendment, clarifying that USG was reaffirming their lack of support based on statements by DU administrators, was also included.
The resolution was written by Craig Hirokawa senior political science and international studies major and social sciences senator, Alisa Brown, psychology and Spanish major and sophomore senator, Zach Gonzales, senior mathematics and economics major and arts and humanities senator, and co-sponsored by Harper Hill, junior chair of campus climate, senior Jackie Faust, senior senator, Katherine Snow, senior international studies and political science major and off-campus senator, senior Electrical and Electronics Engineering major Emily Wetmore and science, engineering and computer science senator, and Vanessa Teck, digital media studies · intercultural communication senior senator.
The meeting: Discussion of the resolution
Nine of the students and three audience members provided comments during the two-hour meeting.
The Native Student Alliance, which has been among the groups that have opposed Boone since the early 1990s, had four members voice their support of the bill at the meeting: senior psychology major Vanessa Racehorse, junior sociology and theater major Jose Guerrero, junior psychology major Amanda Williams and junior chemistry major Julia Bramante.
“This bill is a tremendous step in the right direction. If it were to be passed, it would uphold the values by which DU eliminated Boone in 1998,” said Racehorse.
Bramante, who is the co-chair of NSA, added to Racehorse’s statement later in the meeting.
“I’ve heard the questions raised, ‘Is this issue important? Will this [resolution] make a difference or change anything?’ My answer to those questions is, ‘Yes, absolutely,’” said Bramante.’“If you have to ask, just look at the turnout at his meeting tonight. It’s very important that USG takes a stand on this for the student community – are we going to take a step forward toward a new mascot or take a step back? You don’t need to understand it’s offensive or why there is so much need to change. If you can understand that people are deeply hurt by it, out of love your DU peers you should be able to support it.”
Stuart Portman, senior Biology major, Lena Chhay sophomore political science and international studies major, Neal Feldman, junior International Studies major and Ashlee Shaw Gonzales, junior English and political science major, all voiced their support of the resolution.
“I believe this bill is perfectly written – 30 days will not leave much of a void. As long as we know something is coming, the student body will have something new to rally around,” said Chhay.
Other commenters supported the movement toward a new mascot but questioned the timing and language proposed in the bill. Junior Erik Meek, who has served on the spirit committee, in Greek Life leadership and organizes tailgates for DU athletic events, spoke to the confusion that the lack of mascot might have for the committee.
“We must move forward toward the next mascot – however, spirit committee will be put in a tough spot [by this resolution.] We have some major events coming up in the next two quarters – the mile high tailgate, a big season for men’s lacrosse and men’s basketball is also performing well and will likely make it to playoffs. These games will be nationally televised with no mascot,” said Meek.
Sophomore Adam Hammerman, presented USG with a petition signed by 230 students urging USG to delay the resolution until the student body could vote between Boone and the new mascot proposed by the School Mascot Task Force.
Both Estenson and Snow responded to the petition.
“The work of the student task force is not intended for popular vote, but to narrow down the possible images that reflect our values for a mascot, and will become a formal recommendation for the Board of Trustees, Provost, Chancellor,” said Estenson. “This is something that the student body can’t just pick, because we [the student body] are not entertaining a large portion of our community.”
“When we [Snow, co-sponsor and Senator Michael Hewitt, junior music major] were discussing this bill, we tried to come up some sort of vote, images to pin up on a bulletin board somewhere or something, and we realized that most of the possible suggestions from students would be sarcastic versions of what a mascot could be. No democracy descended straight from the student body will work for this, unfortunately,” said Snow.
Amster, Hill and Hirokawa addressed challenges to come if the bill passed.
“This transition will be hard for everyone… Boone is not official, but he is something, though,” said Amster.
“There is no perfect time to challenge a loved figure. But there is just no justification for pushing this off,” said Hill.
“It [the resolution] paves the way for the new mascot, whoever it is, to be successful,” said Hirokawa, referring to a previous attempt at a new mascot, Ruckus the red-tailed hawk.
Sam Garry and Hayden Johnston expressed lingering concerns about the resolutions’ timing, with Garry maintaining that the resolution was “two quarters too early.”
“I’m not opposed to a new mascot or moving past Boone and I don’t want to marginalize anyone’s sentiments here tonight,” said Johnston. “But I’ve heard that this [resolution] is preemptive and that is correct. I think we can’t make this discussion final because we need on paper what the new decided mascot will be. Pushing the discussion of the new mascot to Thursday makes no sense to me… I oppose this bill not for what it stands for but because it is too hasty.”
The school mascot task force held the first of many meetings Thursday at 4 p.m. to get feedback from the student body about a new official mascot. According to Estenson, the meeting allowed students discuss “values and components” of the new mascot.
“And now we begin. This is a gargantuan task and we want to make sure that we do it properly. The next step will be to start collecting qualitative and quantitative data from the many varied and valuable voices that make up this university,” said Estenson.
UPDATED 10:30 p.m., Thursday March 21, by Anita Balakrishnan, Editor-in-chief: Katherine Snow’s year was changed from “junior” to “senior” and Alisa Brown’s name was changed to Michael Hewitt’s in the 25th paragraph within the clarifying brackets (reporting error.)