Talk Arises of Changing Whitman’s Mascot

In the wake of the Power & Privilege Symposium, a conversation has been ignited about the possibility of Whitman changing its mascot.

The Whitman College mascot has undergone a more complex evolution that we often consider. The Missionary mascot was designated by Reverend Eells when he created the school, and over time the phrase “Fighting Missionary” was adopted in the spirit of competitive athletics. Since the adoption of the name, there has been lingering debate over which, if any, logo should be used to represent the Fighting Missionaries. Eventually designed by the Angelus-Pacific Company of Los Angeles, the original icon is officially not used by the College today. Approved logos include the intertwined W and C often seen in the Athletic Department, and the traditional clock tower logo. Any images of fighting missionaries are absent from the College’s approved icons.

For many members of the Whitman community, changing the mascot has long been a goal, and the conversation is getting serious. During Senate last Sunday 2/22, Vice President Sayda Morales initiated a call to action to make this change during an update from the Student Affairs Committee. Emma Bishop and Nick Hochfield, also contributors to the project, emphasized the importance of listening to student feedback as a new mascot is brainstormed. Although the project is still in its early stages, suggested plans include gathering ideas for a mascot from the student body, and eventually writing a Resolution discussing reasons the Fighting Missionaries need to be left behind, and why it is time for Whitman to unite behind a new mascot.
As student involvement and feedback will be vital throughout this process, all members of the Whitman community are encouraged to voice their thoughts and ideas! The process of deciding on a new mascot can serve not only as a chance to make a tangible change in the community, but as an opportunity for students to rally together in support of an important cause.

1 thought on “Talk Arises of Changing Whitman’s Mascot”

  1. Nobody should favour ‘fighting anything’. Yet Marcus Whitman was a missionary. Dropping the missionary as informal mascot removes a link to our past. Like any past, it was far from perfect. But if we whitewash history, we are more apt to forget it and its lessons. Also, how can anyone favour dropping missionary as the mascot but still cling to the name Whitman for the college? After all, doing so would implicitly absolve Marcus Whitman, personally, from the grievances of the Cayuse and other indigenous people. If missionaries are such a divisive symbol how can the name of even one still grace our college? Was he so perfect to merit that distinction? The preceding demonstrates that taken to its logical extremes, changing the name of the mascot misses the point. Let’s embrace our past, study our past and learn from it. If we become the Bell Towers or some other anodyne name/image created by a professional advertising agency to appease all and offend none we deny the complexity of who we are. What a shame that would be. Whitman can do better.

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