Article by Sherman Abrams
Following the legislative changes made last December by the University of Denver’s administration to their campus safety policies, the university’s unofficial mascot, the Denver Boone, is no longer permitted on its campus. Despite criticism of the ban by students and alumni, the administration has doubled down on their inclusive efforts, and plans to open the 2018-19 school year by naming the amoeba as the University’s branding successor.
In an open letter on the mascot change, the Denver Vice Chancellor of Student Life and Inclusive Excellence states: “The amoeba is the perfect representation for our student body and where it is headed. It’s ageless, genderless, sexless, colorless, godless, spineless, thin-skinned, and inoffensive, so it is justly a figure which all can rally around.” To truly embrace the mascot’s spineless nature, the administration changed the campus safety policies during its six week long winter break, when few students were present on campus, and additionally made no announcement or statement about said changes.
In an interview since the amoeba’s installment, the Vice Chancellor broke down the process: “In 2013, we assembled a 76-member mascot committee from the community and funded $60,000 toward finding an adequate mascot. For whatever reasons, students didn’t take well to the Jackalope and still wanted Boone, so it ultimately was shut down. We learned from this mistake, and so put $150,000 and 12 members of the board of trustees together to choose our new mascot. They really knocked it out of the park with the amoeba.”
The Vice Chancellor’s confidence in the new mascot does not go without opposition however, as some determined students were sure to find something to be offended over. Many are disturbed by the amoeba’s cilia, as the hair-like organelles closely resemble that of a masculine beard. Leading this movement is a sophomore philosophy and gender studies double-major, who when asked for an interview simply stated: “Ugh. Men.”
To accommodate those negatively impacted, the Office of Student Life has placed stress dogs in the library, extended the office of counseling service hours to 24/7, and invited students to voice their feelings on the free speech wall, which since has been illustrated with sayings such as: “#AMOEBEGONE” and “Not my mascot either.”
University Alumni believe facts at DU are even more permeable than an actual amoeba. Evelyn Mayer, DU class of 1989, says: “Cilia aren’t even features of amoeba; they belong to parameciums; Daniel Boone was famous for pioneering his way westward through an undiscovered pass and not being an indigenous-person decimating Cthulhu as believed. Daniel Boone’s trek was nearly a century before the Sand Creek Massacre. These factual disputes are purposely designed to distract from tuition rates going up past inflation year after year.” Many alumni say they no longer feel connected to the school they once loved and have responded to the Boone ban and new mascot by vowing to no longer financially donate to the institution, and also send their children to schools with real mascots like the University of Wyoming. Upon hearing these reports, the University Chancellor responded to us saying, “That’s fine. If we don’t receive funds from the alumni, we’ll simply take it from the students.”
University administration announced a 3.4% tuition increase to the 2018-19 school year last November.
DU is just one of many schools that has seen their mascots take the center stage of controversy in recent decades. From elementary schools to professional sports, mascot controversies have fueled the arguments over what’s truly controversial, what is free speech, and where the line between them lies.
Cover image courtesy of Denver Boone Shop.