Academic Senate approves resolution urging retirement of ‘Mountie’ moniker

The resolution will be brought to the attention of the board of trustees

On Thursday, the Academic Senate ratified a resolution petitioning the board of trustees to retire Mt. SAC’s moniker “Mounties.” During the Sept. 14 board meeting, trustees voted to replace the school’s mascot Joe Mountie but keep the nickname at the recommendation of the Mountie Taskforce.

The resolution, which passed in a 36-4-3 vote, came with passionate discussion.

During public comments, the Native American Inter-Tribal Student Alliance expressed the club’s stance on the issue through a representative statement and a read-aloud letter written by NAISA President Christian Alvarado, who could not attend the meeting.

Alvarado’s letter delved into the history of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, an alleged source of inspiration for Mt. SAC’s mascot.

“Much like the United State’s very own militant forces of colonial times, mounties were no different in that they were established to enforce European colonial law across all of Canada. Many of these efforts included the destruction of land, murder of many indigenous peoples and the robbing of indigenous children that were then forced into residential schools.”

His statement went on to call the school’s land acknowledgments hypocritical and described the usage of a mountie representative as “willful ignorance and a fixed mindset” and implored campus officials to change the nickname to rid the school of a “deplorable representation of colonialism.”

Originally just an item of discussion, the resolution was moved to be an action item through a vote, which was accompanied by a debate. Senator and kinesiology professor Robert Purcell Jr. and Senator and professor of art history Dr. Mary McGuire briefly disputed the authenticity of a presentation conducted by the Mascot Taskforce. Purcell stated that the presentation opposed the claim that the school’s mascot is inspired by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and was actually inspired by indigenous mountain men.

McGuire contested, saying, “The PowerPoint. … relied on one quote ‘historian’ who had no available background in terms of academic training, nothing that was signifying his actual knowledge of this history in his background.”

”And I have to say to you all today, that that presentation was extremely offensive,” she continued.

Although McGuire did not specify details about the presentation, she said, “What the senate put forward today, in my opinion, is representative of the views of the taskforce that were on the right side of history, frankly.”

“All I’m saying is, I believe that all information should be provided to everybody in the senate so they can make the right decision based on the information provided,” Purcell replied.

Ethnic Studies Department Chair Aaron Salinger spoke during the public comments period.

“Why are we agreeing to remove the mascot but not the moniker? Would we be okay to remove the sheets and keep the ‘Klan’?” he asked. “Would we be okay to remove the swastika and keep the word Nazi? Why, then, are we removing the image of a mountie then keeping the word Mountie?”

Salinger also mentioned the moniker’s historical connotations to frontiersmen and stated that it is a hostile figure to Mexican American students.

“He represents an invader that through violence took a large part of Mexican territory. … To the people indigenous to the Americas, the frontiersman was paid to kill their ancestors.” He ended his statement by saying, “This moniker is the antithesis of diversity, inclusion and anti-racism statement just put out yesterday by President Scroggins.”

Attendee Emily De La Torre, a student athlete, contributed to the discussion.

“I had no idea what [Mountie] meant until now. … I don’t want to have the big ‘M’ on my jersey anymore,” she said. “It makes me hurt. Even though I may not be indigenous or not part of that culture, it still makes me upset to see other people feeling like that.” She then endorsed the resolution.

Senator and professor of history April Tellez acknowledged the moniker’s history of tradition at Mt. SAC but said that it is outweighed by the name’s implications.

“I ask my fellow colleagues to consider the question: what stability and feelings of goodness in traditions hold if they are rooted in words, or in this case monikers, that evoke both feelings of hurt and betrayal and are closely connected to and associated with monikers of a not-distant racist past and present.” Tellez then said that the school’s mascot and moniker should represent anti-racist ideals.

The vote to approve the resolution was met with applause. It will now be brought to the attention of the board of trustees during their next meeting on Nov. 9.