Students at the University of Denver say the school’s “pioneers” nickname is offensive and polarizing.
Despite the nickname’s popularity, several students think “pioneer” represents racism and genocide. The school’s Native Student Alliance group says pioneers do not represent “the spirit of the school.”
The College Fix reports:
Last fall, the Native Student Alliance began a campaign seeking to change “pioneers” due to its allegedly offensive connotations, according to the school’s newspaper The Clarion.
The term is “associated with westward expansion, genocide, oppression, assimilation of Native American students,” Native Student Alliance co-president Raelene Woody told The Clarion.
“Pioneer does not represent the spirit of the students on this campus,” fellow co-president Ontario Duley added.
A photo campaign run by the group features a series of signs around campus with facts about the United States’ relationship with Native American tribes in Colorado, including one sign which read “The Sand Creek Massacre in 1864 ended with 150+ Cheyenne and Arapaho dead, mostly women, children, and elderly #sandcreekmassacre.”
“With the No More Pios Campaign, #NoMorePios, we’re looking to create this conversation, this discussion, to bring about change, because Pioneer does not represent the spirit of the students on this campus,” Duley said.
The school also retired their mascot, Denver Boone, in 2013.
“Boone was a polarizing figure that did not reflect the growing diversity of the DU community,” Chancellor Robert Coombe explained. “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.”
Students, however, weren’t willing to give up their old mascot. Because students continued to dress up as Denver Boone, the school instituted a ban on masks, claiming it was for safety precautions.
The College Fix reports:
On January 1 of this year, the university instituted a campus-wide ban on wearing masks “for the safety of all DU community members and guests,” according to the school’s website. The ban includes exceptions for “covering any part of the face for religious reasons; wearing protective equipment while engaged in a sport or responding to an emergency or safety situation; engaging in a theatrical production or similar University sanctioned event; or wearing a mask for protection from weather or medical reasons.”
The original version of the mask policy included potential additional exceptions for those who asked for them: “Individuals may request other exceptions to this policy from the Division of Campus Safety or the Office of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence.”
Shortly after, the policy description on the university’s website was changed to remove the sentence about requesting exceptions.
According to the independent University of Denver-centric blog LetsGoDU, the change occurred after the university was asked if the exceptions to the policy could be applied to individuals dressed as Denver Boone.
The College Fix reached out to the school’s media relations department for comment on the mask policy.
“The University of Denver is committed to the safety and protection of all community members and visitors on its campus,” an unnamed spokesman replied via email. “In recent years violent attacks have led to the harm and even death of innocent people from children to adults in movie theaters, on campuses and in other easily accessible venues. The violence was committed in part by individuals who had concealed their faces and identities.”
Asked whether the policy would allow an exception for Boone, the spokesman told The Fix: “While many policies allow for review of exceptions, a policy to protect the safety of community members and guests shall have, appropriately, no exceptions.”
While the school tries to accommodate sensitive students who need some serious education on what a pioneer is, others aren’t taking a similarly cushy approach to the grown adults behind the campus movement.
“Opposition to Denver Boone was self-indulgent, hypersensitive political correctness from its inception,” said Mike Rosen, an alumni and talk-radio show host for Denver’s 850-KOA. “Denver Boone is fun and harmless. The problem isn’t with the mascot, it’s with the sanctimonious crybabies that have made this an issue…As an alum, I’m disappointed.”
Rosen says it like it is.