Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gauchos? Vaqueros?

And who wrote Treasure of the Sierra Madre?

The current Saddleback "Gaucho"
     How did it come about that Saddleback College’s mascot is the Gaucho? –Well, not the Gaucho, but the Bandito-Gaucho at left?
     It’s a fair question, since
“Gaucho” is the name of “a cowboy of the South American pampas.” —Naturally, South Orange County has little to do with, and is generally clueless about, South American cowboys.
It appears that, early on—and until recently—the images chosen to represent the Gaucho at Saddleback College more closely resembled stereotypical Mexican banditos than South American (or Mexican) cowboys.
     My conclusion: the choice of the “Gaucho” as the Saddleback College mascot was unfortunate, for it likely reflected ignorance (or worse) on the part of the choosers and, well, subsequent generations of clueless or indifferent "Gauchos."
     And who were the choosers? Well, as I’ve written previously,
     According to the district website, “Saddleback College was officially named by action of the board on February 26, 1968. In June of that year, the board approved the Gaucho as mascot and school colors as cardinal and gold.”
     But since (according to the website) the first students didn’t arrive until September, it follows (more or less) that students didn’t choose the “Gaucho.” (The Protean Name)
     It seems likely that it was the district’s original board of trustees who were responsible for (as I argue) mistakenly embracing the “Gaucho”—imagined as a Mexican bandito/cowboy, not a South American cowboy—as the college mascot. As we’ve reported previously, that original crew was, well, seriously conservative. (Ahem.) One easily imagines that these antediluvian Orange Countians chose the “Gaucho,” thinking that the term named Mexican cowboys or something.
     Nope, nope, nope.

     Years ago—starting in 2006 and perhaps earlier—DtB noted the problems with Saddleback’s mascot, the existing icons of which were decidedly un-Gaucho (i.e., un-South American Cowboy) -like.
     Problems? How so?
     1st, because the bandito-like “Gaucho” owed much to unfortunate stereotypes.
     2nd, because Gauchos are denizens of the South American pampas—unfamiliar foreigners who would seem to have little or nothing to do with denizens of San Juan Capistrano, Mission Viejo, and all those Del Taco places.
     We kept hinting that Saddlebackian students really ought to dump the Gaucho and to do this mascot thing right, once and for all. (How about the Rebecca Blacks? Very meta!)
     Well, we’re not sure if we had anything to do with it, but, by early 2010, at Saddleback, students sought to replace the embarrassing image:
…[S]omething good is being attempted by students by Saddleback College's Diversity Student Council (DSC). They are trying to have the school modify its Gauchos mascot, which currently looks more like a Mexican greaser than a cowboy of the pampas. (Saddleback College Gauchos moving to South America?; OC Weekly) (Student government passed a resolution that stated: "Whereas, Saddleback College, an educational establishment, reiterates institutional racism through caricatures of a minority that misrepresent it....")
     Note well! Saddleback student government evidently decided, not to dump the Gaucho, but to keep the Gaucho and to replace the greaser-Bandito image instead.
     I don’t get it. What do South American cowboys have to do with Saddlebackians? If you’re gonna go with cowboys, why not go with vaqueros? —Got something agin’ ‘em?! That it?!
     Well, whatever.

     Today, I noticed a Lariat article about the inevitable South Americanization of the Gaucho: Change is on the horizon for Gaucho mascot.
     Here are the article’s key points:
The college’s existing image of the “Gaucho is not an accurate representation of the rugged Argentine cowboy known to live off the land in the treacherous highlands of Pampas and Patagonia.” Evidently, the Gaucho is also a soldier, somehow.
Last April, Saddleback College’s ASG passed a resolution according to which a new image for the Gaucho should be selected.
“After Classified Senate declined to take action on the resolution, the Academic Senate subsequently approved the legislation….”
Next, the measure was approved by the Consultation Council, “consisting of President Tod Burnett, deans, and presidents of both the Academic and Classified Senate.”
Now, the measure is in the hands of the marketing committee, “headed by Saddleback College Director of Public Information and Marketing, Jennie McCue.”
A Canadian re-branding graphics design firm has been commissioned to produce four logo modifications. These will be sent to the marketing committee.
Physically, “There are approximately 12 Gaucho logos that would need to be repainted around the campus, as well as foam padding at both ends of the basketball court that would need to be replaced.”
Evidently, “Assistant Athletic Director Jerry Hannula [suggested] that since the athletic department will bear the brunt of the [physical] changes, it would be prudent to get the consensus of the department staff before coming to a decision.”
Meanwhile, some Saddlebackians are hatching a plan to cancel the firm’s contract and to replace it with an in-house effort: “We would like to see the college utilize the resources that currently exist to find a solution … We are putting together a plan to enlist the services of Saddleback College graphics design students to present their options to the students and faculty of Saddleback College for a vote."
According to the latter plan, there will be a “contest for students to present their best work. The department would narrow the choices to a select few, and at that point, it would be put to a vote.”
One way or another, look for resolution of this matter by Fall 2011. (The issue of whether there is a budget and how big it is appears to be nebulous.)
     Well, there you are. It could well be that, by the end of Fall 2011, Saddleback College will be flashin’ images of a Gaucho who is way, way south of the border, down pampas way. No more Frito Bandito! No more somebody who has anything whatsoever to do with North America!

     Naturally, DtB’s coverage of the Saddleback Gaucho issue spilled over into an assessment of Irvine Valley College’s sad mascot, the Laser. Years ago, the college actually owned a laser, but it sold the dang thing to a local plastic surgeon. Or maybe they just lost it. Could be.
     So why are we still the Lasers? Why were we EVER the lasers? I mean, even if we owned a laser, what sensible collegian would want to call him/herself a coherent beam of light?
     Last we heard—a year or two ago—there was a move afoot to replace the Laser. Then: nothing.
     The Lariat writer notes that Saddleback’s Gaucho issue has always seemed to get mired in controversy or something. Somehow, all efforts come to nothing (until now, I guess).
     Well, that’s been the fate of the Laser issue, too. Stay tuned.

Past posts re mascots/images:

• The Lariat "gaucho" Dissent the Blog, Feb 8 2006
• Gaucho & Laser ridiculosity Dissent the Blog, Feb 15 2006
• Separated at Birth? Ask a Mexican's Logo, Saddleback College's Gaucho OC Weekly, November, 2009
• Gustavo Arellano v. Saddleback's "Gaucho" Dissent the Blog, Nov., 2009
• Wanted: A New Mascot for IVC Dissent the Blog, Nov 16 2009
• Stupid mascots and the Irvine Company's "black heart" Dissent the Blog, Dec 26 2009
Lasers! Lasers!
Generating an intense beam of coherent monochromatic light!
Lasers lasers,
fight fight fight!

We are Bobcats, you are toast!
We use your ass as a scratchin' post!

Meanwhile, at Saddleback College:
Gauchos? Vaqueros? What the hey!
Get our learnin' from Frito-Lay!
Gooooooooooo Gauchos!
• A weird windowless library, alleged marauding flag-swiping Hippies, the protean name, and other district mysteries—Solved! Dissent the Blog, Jan 1 2010
• Saddleback College Gauchos moving to South America? OC Weekly, March 2010
• Saddleback College Students Seek to De-Mexicanize their School's Gaucho Mascot OC Weekly, March 2010

Proud Gaucho. (I showed the current Lariat Gaucho to knowledgeable Latino colleagues, who assured me that that "Gaucho" causes OUCHO followed by GROUCHO.) 
SEE ALSO School Daze At UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton (OC Weekly) ~ While CSUF students find an administration that applaud their protests, UCI coeds deal with heavier-handed officials


Anonymous said...

I think the new mascot should be a white guy in a golf shirt with a cellphone in his ear.

Anonymous said...

The Developers!!!

Anonymous said...

I revisited many, many suggestions from DTB's earlier posts (back when BvT was "Chunky-Lunky" (sorry--couldn't resist), and I still say: given your resilience in the face of adversity, I would advocate for COYOTES as your IVC mascot.

What to say about "Gauchos"----? It is just weird. I can't believe they intentionally stuck with that. Unfortunate--big-time missed opportunity there.


Anonymous said...

The IVC iPhonies!

Anonymous said...

Down here at Southwestern College, we used to be the Apaches, even though there aren't any real Apaches within a few hundred miles of Chula Vista. One of our football coaches says he actually called up some Apaches to make sure that the name wasn't offensive. He claims they told him that we should just win lots of football games.

When Serafin Zasueta came along (thanks again, guys) he decided that "Apaches" was offensive and chose the name Jaguars, I guess to accessorize with our Greco-Mayan campus architecture. On one memorable Opening Day, Z persuaded a local car dealership to park some real Jaguars, the kind with tires, outside Mayan Hall.

Nit-pickers might point out that Mayas are even further away from Chula Vista than Apaches, but jaguars are found in Mayan gliphs, and there are, no doubt, at least a couple of jaguars caged up in the San Deigo Zoo, so there's that.

Z was fond of writing long "rationales" to the BoT to explain his decisions. He said one of the reasons he liked jaguars as a mascot is because they rarely attack and eat humans.

Go Jags!

--100 miles down the road

Anonymous said...

How about the IVC Termites?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Since denizens of UCI are the "anteaters," perhaps we (at IVC) should be the "ants." It kinda works.
I think Saddleback should just switch to the "Grauchos"--they'd only have to add one letter, and Graucho was way cool, though I think he made a point of avoiding Orange County.

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