26 January 2015

Maybe the UTRGV mascot should be the zombie, because the debate won’t die

Just when thought we had finished with the whole Vaqueros controversy, it’s back in the news. Texas lawmaker Terry Canales has made good on his threat.... er, promise... to introduce legislation that would almost certainly get rid of the “Vaquero” as mascot.

The bill, from my point of view, is... problematic. It reads:

The university shall include on the ballot:
  1. the “Broncs”;
  2. the “Ocelots”; and
  3. any other options the university chooses, including nicknames nominated by students and approved by the university.

This is a rigged ballot for a single outcome: to get the Bronc back. It was clear in the discussion leading up to this that people affiliated with UTPA students favoured the Bronc, and everyone not affiliated with UTPA were “Anything but the Bronc.” Nobody was strongly arguing for the Ocelots.

There is no doubt that if there was a student vote held now, UTPA students would overwhelmingly vote for the Bronc.

I get that “majority rules” is very popular option... when you’re in the majority. It completely sucks to be given a message that what you have to say is not even worth listening to when you’re in the minority.

Let me give you a little “Zen predicts” on this bill: it will never come up for a vote, for two reasons.

First, legislators from the rest of the Texas will not see the value in interfering with a decision that was done above board and according to Hoyle. It was always Guy Bailey’s decision, and while his decision was unpopular, it was his to make.

Second, the UT System, and other Valley legislators from outside the Edinburg area, will lobby against this bill and stop it before it hits the legislative floor for a vote. The representatives of the UT System will resent what they see as political second-guessing and micromanagement. Other legislators will resent that the bill silences their constituents.

Additional, 27 January 2015: What also bugs me about the wording of this bill is that it removes the voice of any stakeholders other than current students. I’m faculty member, and I have a stake in this institution and am affected by mascot decisions (as much a students, at least). Why would I not get a say under HB901?

Maybe if the wording of the bill was “Vaqueros, yes or no?” I could get behind this bill, as it would address legitimate concerns about that particular mascot; that is, issues around cultural sensitivity, inclusion of men and women, and so on. But the point of this bill is to not to get passed. The point of this bill is for Representative Canales to be seen to be doing something.

External links

Bill seeks election for UT-RGV nickname
Proposed bill to leave UTRGV nickname up to students

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