Thursday, May 12, 2005

living isn't a simple one ever said it's supposed to be

So learned the Marquette University Board of Trustees yesterday, after meeting in emergency session. They reversed their decision to change the athletics mascot to the *awe inspiring, fearsome, terrifying* Gold, and have now opened the decision process to the stakeholders they should have consulted in the first place.

From my favorite source for the now-daily Marquette blunders, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
On Wednesday, the Board of Trustees threw in the towel and put Gold in the New Coke bin. In a stunning about-face, the board announced the creation of a new nickname selection process with the aim of having a new and workable nickname in place by July 1, when the school joins the Big East Conference.

The new plan, which includes the creation of an advisory committee and a system in which members of the Marquette community can vote online for their favorite nickname, essentially takes the task of finding a nickname away from the board and puts it in the hands of the Marquette community. As many as 100,000 alumni worldwide, nearly 11,000 students and more than 2,000 employees potentially could be involved in the final decision.

"We say, and we really mean, that we regret what happened," Wild said at a news conference at the Alumni Memorial Union exactly one week after Gold was first unveiled.
University President Father Wild (who was previously rumored to have been in favor of reinstating the Warriors nickname with a different mascot) said:
"We were not winning hearts and minds."
The article continues:
But the backlash was fast and furious. Web sites and blogs devoted to Marquette athletics and politics were almost universal in their condemnation of the nickname, talk-show hosts were spending hours on the topic, and the university found itself constantly on the defensive.

On Friday, students organized a small protest and shouted at Wild. On Saturday, Wild and John F. Bergstrom, chairman of the board of trustees, met with students.

It wasn't enough. The board hastily called a meeting on Wednesday to find a way out of the public relations mess.

At the news conference, Wild said the issue of bringing back Warriors was "firmly off the table." Both he and Bergstrom reiterated comments they made last week that adopting a Warriors moniker violated the principle of respect for human dignity. Moreover, they said, American Indians found "Warriors" offensive.

The decision to reject Warriors likely will not sit well with some die-hard Marquette fans who have accused university officials of acting in a politically correct way. Many fans of the Warriors nickname expressed frustration that the school ought to consider using a Warriors nickname without any American Indian references or imagery.
And what did the board come up with to solve the new mess they find themselves in?
The new plan will begin with the selection of a Marquette Nickname Advisory Committee, which will include students, alumni, faculty and staff. Those members will be announced soon.

In the next two weeks, a list of as many as 10 possible nicknames will be unveiled. The names, which will include such chestnuts as Blue and Gold, Golden Avalanche, Hilltoppers and Golden Eagles, will come from the names that sprang up during the 1994 and 2004 nickname debates.

Voting will be done online, and all students, alumni, faculty and staff will be asked to choose two nicknames from the list, or offer a write-in option.

Votes in favor of Warriors will be thrown out, officials said.

The two top options then will be subject to another round of online voting, expected to be sometime in mid-June. The nickname with the most support will be sent to Wild, who will announce the school's new athletics nickname.

The two rounds of voting will be binding. For those without access to the Internet, another method of voting will be provided.