Is Quinnipiac’s nickname the Braves offensive and derrogatory? This was the central question that the Student Government Association members raised at a Town Hall Meeting on Oct. 7.
The meeting was held by the SGA to gain input from the student body about the issue of whether or not Quinnipiac should change its nickname the Braves.
Although the SGA has been holding meetings about this issue, neither the NCAA or the Office of Civil Rights has made it mandatory that Quinnipiac change its nickname the Braves. Dr. Manuel Carreiro, vice president and dean of students, said, “There’s no one telling us we have to do this. This is a proavtive thing.”
The idea of whether or not the name the Braves should be changed or not has been going on for about a decade. It was only until recently, about four months ago, that the Office of Civil Rights made the issue known that high school and college mascots that are offensive to any race might have to be changed. Quinnipiac’s nickname, the Braves, is now under review.
The Office of Civil Rights is the same commission that said that if any institution displays a Confederate flag, it can’t host a game there.
If Quinnipiac decides not to change the nickname the Braves now, problems could arise in the future. Lynn Bushnell, vice president of public affairs, said, “What if the NCAA comes up with a stronger statement saying `We as a commission object to the use of Native American names?’ If a major network is deciding whether to have a game at a controversal or non-controversal site, they will take the non-controversal site. Five or ten years from now, this decision not to change our name might affect us.”
Another problem is that certain schools won’t play other schools with Native American nicknames. Jack McDonald, director of athletics and recreation, pointed out that the University of Wisconsin won’t play any school with a Native American nickname.
Carreiro brought up the intrisic value of changing Quinnipiac’s nickname or not. “A lot of institutions have Native American nicknames, and think that there’s no Native Americans here so it’s not offensive. But there are hundreds and thousands of Native Americans here, and when you insult one, you insult all,” said Carreiro. “It’s ok to wear a red face to a game, but is it ok to wear a black face or a white face? We don’t do it because we know it’s offensive. There should be a sense of dignity and respect that you give everyone.”
Despite the fact that the nickname Braves is a Quinnipiac tradition, some students are in favor of changing the name now, as long as the students have a say in the new nickname. Senior Jen Hutton said, “We should take the step now, with the students’ input.”
If the nickname the Braves is changed, the students will be involved in choosing a new name. “If we decide to change our name, we will go into a second process, similar to this. We’ll come up with two or three new names and present them to the entire student body,” said Carreiro. “It’s important that all the constituencies go through the process.”
A number of students spoke of the possible boost of school spirit that may come along with changing the name the Braves. One student said, “We need to grow as Division 1 school. We need a mascot and school spirit, and if changing our name is a way to get that school spirit, then that’s what we have to do.”
Junior Joe Bowman, on the other hand, feels that if we remove our nickname the Braves, the connection between Quinnipiac and the Native American tribe is lost. Bowman suggested that a Native American studies program be set up, so we can take on what the true meaning of the Quinnipiac Brave is.
Bushnell agreed with Bowman that this is a good idea, but added that, “We should set up [a Native American studies program] for its value, not to save a nickname.”
How do the Quinnipiac athletes feel about the possible name change of the Braves?
McDonald said, “There is no formal statement, but there is no major sentiment of a demand to keep it or change it.”
Senior Nick Lioi posed the question, “If we do not decide to change our name, is there a chance we’ll get a mascot?”
In response, McDonald said, “Yes, we can have a mascot even though it’s not related to our nickname. San Diego has a chicken as a mascot and they’re the Padres.”
Many students are indifferent to whether or not the nickname the Braves is changed or not.
Junior Pamela McCarthy said, “I’ve been talking to a lot of students about this, and one way or the other, it doesn’t really matter.”
“I think we should take the `s’ off of the Braves,” said freshman Dennis Kisyk. “Our athletes are `Brave,’ and so it will have nothing to do with Native Americans.”
Of the students who attended the meeting, 19 voted in favor of changing the nickname the Braves, 11 voted against it, and 6 were undecided.
The SGA will have voted on whether or not to change the name on Oct. 10.