Board Editorial: Mascot change important step in Whitman history

President Kathy Murray’s announcement that the Mascot Working Group unanimously recommends to change the Missionary mascot is a milestone in our college’s history. By creating the Mascot Working Group, President Murray gave an administrative voice to a  movement that has been gaining traction among student activists.

The Indigenous People’s Education and Culture Club (IPECC) has put forth effort to critically examine this college’s history along with countless other student activists. We celebrate this announcement as a watershed in the movement to challenge our past and to scrutinize the symbols that surround us. While the administration had the power to make the final call, it is impossible to deny that student advocates themselves were responsible for the nurture and advancement of this conversation.

The Pioneer would like to further commend President Murray’s courage in making this announcement during her first year as President of Whitman College. It would have been easy to allow the discussion to ferment in the web of administrative discussion, committees and reports that often hinder timely change. By announcing that a new mascot will be decided upon by the fall of 2016, President Murray has shown that she believes this decision is important and must be enacted quickly.

We are glad to hear the college will encourage a more complex understanding of its history and its region in first-year orientation programming. We hope the faculty will further this discussion by including texts on this history in the Encounters curriculum.

We look forward to future conversations regarding the mascot change. The college now has an opportunity to come together to identify a mascot that will represent the values it strives to foster: inclusivity, community and intellectual growth. This is a big moment in the history of our college, and we commend our leaders for making this important change.