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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The bullsh*t detector is working overtime 
This is the email that Marquette University sent to its students (and presumably its faculty) to inform us of the change of nicknames. The Board of Trustees, in all their wisdom, changed the nickname of Marquette from the “Golden Eagles”, to the “Gold”. Let’s take a look at this email and see if the bullshit detector smells anything.

Marquette University News Briefs for May 4, 2005Marquette “Gold” selected as new athletics nickname; new athletics monogram also announced

Marquette’s Board of Trustees announced today that the new athletics nickname will be the Marquette “Gold.” Marquette “Gold”, huh? Isn’t that…original? I’ll have more to say on this later. This name was chosen for its unique blending of the university’s old and new athletics traditions, and was one of the names suggested during nickname discussions in both 1994 and 2004. How does “Gold” blend the old and new traditions? Let’s see…Avalanche/Hilltopers, Warriors and Golden Eagles. Okay, ya, I can see how the past nicknames relate to “Gold”. Are you kidding me? I don’t know what the new athletic traditions are, but how they relate to the nickname “Gold” I’ll never know. This “blending traditions” crap is ridiculous. Absolutely asinine. A poor excuse for a poor choice. The change will be effective on July 1 when Marquette enters the BIG EAST Conference. Well, at least I’ll graduate a “Golden Eagle”. Imagine the first Big Monday broadcast on ESPN: “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Big Monday matchup between the UConn Huskies and the visiting Marquette Gold! Hey Bob, what’s a Gold?” That will be priceless.

"Gold” boldly represents Marquette’s proud athletics traditions such as Golden Avalanche, Golden Eagles and Gold Rush, the current student fan section for basketball games. “Gold” boldly represents the Board of Trustees’ general incompetence and disregard for student opinions. It has also become the signature color for Marquette athletics worn proudly around the country by Marquette students, alumni and fans. The author is correct that gold has become the “signature color” for Marquette athletics and is worn by alumni around the country. However, DePaul alumni proudly wear blue, but DePaul’s Board of Trustees has not seen it necessary to change their nickname to “Blue”. In athletics, the mark of a champion is often a gold medal or trophy. Is this supposed to be a justification? Or simply a statement that is obviously true. Oh wait, I get it. The Board really wanted to use the nickname “Gold Trophies”, but they didn’t think that would go over very well.

The Board of Trustees voted not to reinstate the Warriors athletics nickname stating that as a Catholic, Jesuit university, it would hold itself to the highest possible standards of its mission, which include recognizing and appreciating the dignity of every person. But yet, they still implement affirmative action in admissions? Further, data collected in an online survey last fall of opinions and attitudes indicated that even 10 years after its introduction, the Golden Eagles nickname, logo and mascot have not generated with the Marquette community a strong sense of pride or identity. That a survey even had to be conducted blows my mind. I’m unaware of the results of this “survey” every being released. If so, I’d love to see them. People hated the nickname partially for the way it was selected and implemented. The rest of us hated it because we’re not fans of Golden Chickens. In the survey, the terms respondents most often used to describe the Golden Eagles nickname are boring (57 percent), weak (55 percent) and common (52 percent).

In the same survey, respondents indicated that Warriors signified strong, competitive and winning. Why don’t we get the percentages for these results? Because they were overwhelming and indicated that the students preferred the name Warriors? The Board chose a nickname that represented those same strengths and that had been suggested in prior nickname discussions. Marquette “Gold” was the Board’s overwhelming favorite. So “Gold” was the ONLY nickname that represented the adjectives strong, competitive, and winning? Frankly, I disagree with competitive, but moving on.

“I am really pleased that the Trustees have chosen this direction for Marquette athletics. And what direction would that be? The fast lane to the gallows for mocking and ridicule? The Board has chosen a name that reflects our desire to be champions,” said President Robert Wild, S.J. “With Marquette ‘Gold,’ the Board has captured decades of traditions in one profound term that symbolizes the high standards always set by our student-athletes and our coaches. Again, I’m waiting for someone, anyone, to explain to me how the nickname “Gold” captures a winning tradition and history?

“While I recognize that some people will be disappointed that we are not reinstating the Warriors nickname, we cannot teach one principle about respect for human dignity in our classrooms and then fail to act by that same principle when making decisions,” Father Wild said. First, it’s not that you chose to abandon tradition by failing to readopt the Warrior, it’s the fact that you pussed out in selecting any name at all. How is human dignity possibly disrespected by the word “Warrior”? It’s a word! The fact that you believe that there is some negative connotation attached to the word doesn’t mean that everyone believes the same. But thank you for taking the opportunity to think for everyone else. If I’m not going to think for myself, why did I come to college? “The Warriors nickname will always be part of our proud athletics tradition, and we will honor that tradition. Oh, so it was at one time okay to “insult” Indians by using Warrior, and we’re still proud of that? I wonder if the Board had the option of removing all references to Warriors in Marquette’s history if they would do so. But we live in a different era than when the Warriors nickname was selected in 1954. The perspective of time has shown us that our actions, intended or not, can offend others. God forbid anyone be offended in this day and age. Everyone has the right to never be offended. Isn’t that in Marquette’s mission statement? We must not knowingly act in a way that others will believe, based on their experience, to be an attack on their dignity as fellow human beings. If that’s the case, shouldn’t you welcome and embrace homosexuals? Shouldn’t you allow NOW and Planned Parenthood to be present on campus as banning them attacks the dignity of women?

“We have all taken up this question in a serious manner. I am satisfied that people of good conscience will agree we have given this issue thoughtful study and consideration. I have to agree that the Board has likely at least studied the issue and examined the responses given to the survey. However, they completely ignored the wishes of students and alumni. I fully support the Board’s decision and am very excited about our future as the Marquette ‘Gold’ in the BIG EAST Conference,” Father Wild concluded.

The Board made its decision after nearly a year of gathering feedback from students, alumni, faculty, staff and the community. Gathering, not listening to, or caring…but gathering.

“As an alumnus of the 1960s, it is probably pretty obvious where I stood on the Warriors question when we opened our discussions,” said John Bergstrom, chair of the Board of Trustees. You mean before you were castrated? “But after my own conversations with tribal leaders, I became convinced that the Warriors nickname could not be separated from past imagery. Watch out for Groupthink. As the Board moved deeper into this process, it became clear to all of us that as stewards of the university’s mission, we had to be guided by conscience, not emotion. When we looked at the opportunity to give our teams a name that captures excellence in a single word, we knew we had our answer. Crusaders would have worked much better if you’re looking for a single word. Our alumni and our traditions matter. Apparently not, as you chose the name “Gold” to represent your alumni and current students. I would never say another word about this if you sent a survey to all available alumni and asked them if they support the nickname “Gold”. If even just 51% of the alumni said Yes, I’d never say another word. And I can tell you that the Board stands overwhelmingly behind this decision. Well whoopdi-do! A Board that is accountable to no one and that doesn’t care about the opinions of alumni and students stands behind their asinine nickname. Congrat-u-freaking-lations.

“Now let’s grab hold of this golden opportunity as Marquette heads into the BIG EAST Conference,” Bergstrom concluded. Watch out for bad word play.

The new nickname can launch a renewed effort to celebrate Marquette’s athletics traditions and its winning future. The Board specifically directed that alumni, students and fans be fully engaged in the development of the Marquette “Gold” identity and mascot. WAIT! First you, the Board, pick this ridiculous nickname, and then you DIRECT alumni, students, and fans to be fully engaged in developing the identity of the stupid nickname? If you thought getting people to rally behind and support the Golden Chicken was hard, this will prove to be impossible. Plans for a new mascot will be announced at the start of the new school year this fall. Seriously, this should be priceless.

The university also introduced today a new “MU” monogram that will be used to visually identify Marquette athletics. This is a pretty decent logo. Nothing fancy, and had the Board asked, I could have come up with something very similar and saved some money. The creation of the “MU” monogram is a direct response to last fall’s survey respondents’ desire that Marquette have a distinct “MU” symbol. Since the Board knew that they would be selecting Gold as the nickname, and they knew it was going to piss everyone off, they should have presented a few options to the students regarding the monogram and allowed the students to vote. At least then the students would fell somewhat involved. The “MU” monogram will appear on uniforms, printed materials, merchandise, and on the floor of the McGuire Center and the Bradley Center. Work on the McGuire Center floor will begin this week in order to use the small window of time between the end of the last season and the start of the summer basketball camps. More information about the new “MU” monogram is available at the university’s Web site at http://www.marquette.edu/nickname.
News Briefs is published each Monday and as news warrants by the Office of Public Affairs for Marquette students, faculty and staff.
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