When I first started at St. Joseph’s School last year, Father Jerry told me that we needed to think about our Braves mascot. He cited several examples of schools that were in hot water over similar mascots. I told him that I needed time to get to know the school culture and more about the mascot.
This year, surrounding the Hallissey tournament, I received a couple well-articulated arguments from alumni that argued, from an ethical perspective, it is time to examine our mascot. Our advisory school board suggested talking to our Student Council members for some input.
Two weeks ago, the Idaho Statesman ran a story about a high school in Oregon going through a mandated process to revise their Braves mascot. They have two years to go through the process and make their change. The article explained that when the school district went to the tribe for approval to keep the mascot, the tribe said that they could not support the request.
Given all of this recent discussion, I went to Student Council last week for some introductory conversation about a new mascot. I explained to them that nothing has been decided, but because we are a Catholic school, and we need to treat all people fairly and justly, we are beginning the process of looking at a possible revision to our mascot. This process will take time, and we will be soliciting input from several sources. Because I want dialogue and input from several sources, the earliest this change would occur is next school year (2016-17).
One of the calls of the Catholic church, and therefore our school, is social justice. From the US Council of Catholic Bishops: “Catholic social teaching is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and human dignity. Every human being is created in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ, and therefore is invaluable and worthy of respect as a member of the human family.”
We do not want to offend people with our mascot. We also want our mascot to be representative of who we are as a school. We are St. Joseph’s Catholic School; we are the school of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. We are a partner to the Bishop Kelly Knights. All of these things should be taken into consideration as we have our discussions about mascot.
Our next steps are further discussion and research. We want to be deliberate in our decisions and not rush things. But, we have a moral imperative to start the conversation.