Meeting about UHS mascot causes controversy online
By J. Chambless
By John Chambless
A tiny notice about a meeting to be
held at Unionville High School snowballed on social media this week,
culminating with angry postings and the cancellation of the proposed
A Unionville High School student-created group calling itself the Identity Council got a meeting notice posted on a local newspaper's website, leading to a small story. The meeting was intended to address whether or not to eliminate the school's Indian mascot and logo.
Readers picked up on the announcement, and the angry messages, pro and con, started flying. By Wednesday afternoon, school district superintendent John Sanville issued the following message online and in emails to district families:
“I am writing to you about the
growing social media frenzy concerning the Unionville High School
Indian mascot,” he wrote. “It is important the entire community
have a clear understanding of what has happened and how we will move
“The UHS student-created and student-led Identity Council arranged for a meeting to facilitate a conversation about the UHS mascot. In part, group members wanted to discuss the cultural sensitivity of using the Indian. The Identity Council planned to meet on Wednesday evening to further their discussions.
“Then the posts started popping up on
screens everywhere,” Sanville continued. “Some were curious; some
were interested; some were angry. As the information spread, there
were attacks on the students and the Identity Council. Misinformation
was posted by The Kennett Paper and widely shared. Things rapidly
devolved and it is important that we understand the importance of
“Before we can examine the cultural sensitivity of the Indian mascot, we must first examine our own reactions to opening a discussion about it,” Sanville wrote. “I know we are a community filled with passion and pride. I also know we are a community that welcomes and supports opportunities to talk about things that impact us. I also know that a hot-button topic sometimes leads to emotionally charged and accusatory responses from adults, sometimes aimed at students. That is why the meeting was cancelled. There needs to be a cooling-off period online so we can ensure an in-person gathering will be positive and productive.
“So let’s all hit the pause button,” Sanville concluded. “Let’s allow the Indian to be the center of a dialogue where information and views are shared and responded to via respectful and meaningful conversation, in real time, with students, friends, and neighbors.”
For updated information about district events, visit www.ucfsd.org.
To contact Staff Writer John
Chambless, email firstname.lastname@example.org.