July 26, 2020
Emory & Henry College, a liberal arts school of about 1,000 students in Virginia, has a problem. And, no, it’s not that its namesakes — John Emory and Patrick Henry — were slaveholders. It’s the school mascot.
It’s the wasp.
Not WASP, mind you. Wasp.
The school, which, in fairness, appears to be taking serious steps toward making the campus more welcoming to students of color, to the LGBTQ community and to first-generation college students, has decided that the mascot’s connection to the acronym is enough to warrant whether it should be changed. And the right-wing media is having a field day with it. And, frankly, it strikes me that a better first step might be to change the name of the school so that it doesn’t honor two slaveholders, one of whom opposed ratification of the constitution.
But it leads me to ask: Does a school really NEED a mascot? Would Michigan be any less Michigan if its athletic teams were not the Wolverines but just, say, “Michigan”?