Sunday, February 10, 2019

Gauchos confront the "Gaucho" issue and come up with shite

     It appears that the original board was responsible for Saddleback College’s unfortunate mascot, the “Gaucho.” (What do South American cowboys have to do with the OC? Did those notorious right-wingers imagine that the Gaucho is a Mexican cowboy?)

     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.” So it was the early board.

     Since then, some Saddlebackians (their identity no doubt by now lost in time) chose a series of "Gaucho" graphics that imply continued utter cluelessness about the Gaucho's South American identity—and an embrace of ugly Mexican stereotypes. ("I don't have to show you no stinkin' badges!")

     We’ve long objected to the “Gaucho” mascot and especially its associated images, sometimes drawing the interest of local press. Check out this squawk from thirteen years ago:
The Lariat "gaucho" - Feb. 8, 2006
     Recently, I've learned, some faculty at Saddleback have made yet another attempt to dump all this unfortunate Gauchoery in favor of something sensible and inoffensive.
     So what’s happened?

* * *

     TODAY, a friend sent me the latest chapter in the saga. Here’s a letter, sent out last month to Saddlebackians, from spankin' new College President Elliot Stern.
     Prior to my arrival, the college undertook a survey about whether to keep the Gaucho. The survey results are attached. Response rates were exceptionally high for a campus-wide survey. The majority favored keeping the Gaucho. [66.5% of students/alumni voted to keep Gaucho. 64.4% of faculty/staff voted to keep Gaucho.] These results were shared with Consultation Council this past Tuesday, which then voted to recommend going forward with the original design on the AstroTurf for the primary field in the new stadium—with “Saddleback” in one end zone, “Gauchos” in the other, and our existing “G” logo at the 50-yard line. The Council also recommended not to include the “G” logo on the training field turf. (Nor was “Gauchos” in the design for the end zone on the training fields.) Finally, Council voted unanimously to recommend immediate formation of a working group representing stakeholders across campus, including students, to plan and oversee development of a new symbolic logo for the Gaucho (one that honors the Gaucho and the culture from which it comes) and the re-design of our “G.” As President, I accepted these recommendations and gave the greenlight to fabrication of the AstroTurf. We will form a re-design task force in the near future, ensuring that multiple perspectives are represented in that group. Nothing about the Council’s recommendation or my decision to follow it precludes ongoing discussion of the Gaucho. Nor does a re-design of our G mean that we are planning wholesale replacement of the existing G logo in the near future. In the face of our budgetary constraints, changes in the G logo and introduction of a new Gaucho symbol would need to be done over time. 
AstroTurf decisions
     I know that many on our campus have strong feelings about this issue. This is not an easy discussion to have. But I am glad that we are having it, and I am glad that it will continue. I am grateful to be supporting a campus where such discussions are being had and where we are being respectful of one another and giving each other time and space to process and evolve. This is Saddleback. 

     Inexplicably (i.e., stupidly), Saddleback College faculty and students has decided to keep the Gaucho mascot, despite the absence of any discernible connection between South Orange County and, um, South American cowboys.
     But they’ll be replacing the old images. Maybe for the right reasons. That's good.
     --With what? I guess we'll see.

* * *
The decision to remove Gaucho mascot has been made, but no plans are underway - Lariat, 11/18/2014
Very little say
   On Nov. 5, Saddleback College’s Academic Senate reaffirmed that the Gauchos mascot is not to be used by any college entity for any purposes moving forward.
     The issue [?] of the culturally insensitive [Argentinian] riding a horse should completely be banned, said Academic Senate President Dan Walsh.
     The Academic Senate had taken a stance against the mascot years ago.
     “We actually passed a resolution, saying to remove the Gauchos’ mascot and the students did as well,” Walsh said.
     The college’s Associated Student Government and the Consultation Council had both passed a resolution to take down the mascot.
     “We thought it was going to be a done deal. We were not going to have the logo anymore, but it started showing up again,” Walsh said.
     As of now there is no set date to when the mascot’s image will be completely removed from the college, or replaced with a different mascot.
     “Athletics has had very little to say about [the mascot],” said Assistant Athletic Director Jerry Hannula, though the image is displayed in almost all athletic forums on campus….
—As usual, the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. We've got the same problem at IVC. We decided years ago, as per process, to dump and replace the "Laser" mascot. That somehow got lost; now we have roads named "Laser." We're committed to that absurdity forever.

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