The University of Wisconsin will now be able to schedule
games against teams with American Indian symbols and names after the Faculty
Senate approved a new policy regarding athletic competitions Monday.
According to the new policy, UW may schedule competitions
with schools that are not on the NCAA list of colleges and universities subject
The Badgers are now permitted to play schools including
Central Michigan University, Florida State University, Mississippi College and
the University of Utah — all of which have American Indian names, because
tribes have endorsed the use of their names and, therefore, the universities
are not subject to NCAA restrictions.
American Indian Student Academic Services Coordinator, Aaron
Bird-Bear said UW recently updated its mascot policy to reflect the 2005 NCAA
mandate reviewing American Indian mascots in higher education.
Bird-Bear said UW's initial American Indian mascot policy
was issued 12 years prior to the NCAA's 2005 mascot review.
"It should come as no surprise that the initiation of the
2005 NCAA American Indian mascot review was predicated on the derogatory
representations and hostile climates for American Indians in higher education,"
Dean of the College of Letters and Sciences Gary Sandefur
said UW changed its policy because the NCAA now has a policy in place.
According to the NCAA policy, the use of hostile and abusive
American Indian mascots, names and imagery at NCAA championships is prohibited.
Institutions subject to the NCAA's ban were identified by the NCAA after a
comprehensive review by NCAA staff and the executive committee.
Sandefur, who was a member of the ad-hoc subcommittee chosen
to review UW's policy on Native American logos and names, said the committee
felt UW's policy should be consistent with national policy.
"We continue to be on the progressive side of the issue,"
Sandefur said. "I think it continues to make a statement that UW-Madison is
supportive of the Native American community and team names and mascots that are
offensive to these members."
Sandefur said despite UW's progressive stance, he thinks
there are some American Indians who will still be offended by Florida State
University for example, even though they have been in touch with the tribe and
received endorsement for their mascot.
"There is no reason to use a symbol of a living, thriving
group of people when there are other team names," Sandefur said.
Bird-Bear said he personally wishes to see the retirement of
all Indian mascots and logos because they stem from the anti-Indian sentiment
that is seen in competition with schools that have Indian mascots and logos.
"Anti-Indian sentiment is necessary for competition and
leads to the derogatory statements against American Indian peoples like 'Kill
the Indians,' 'Scalp the Indians' or 'Indians suck' that people yell or write
on their vehicles and posters in competitive spirit," Bird-Bear said.
Bird-Bear added he hopes the university continues to review
its American Indian mascot policy every couple years while enforcing what is
UW's policy also states the UW athletic department will not
schedule competitions or attend tournaments hosted by any school on the NCAA
list unless the school is a conference member.
In addition, UW will discourage all teams from bringing
American Indian mascots to athletic facilities and request that visiting bands
not play war chants and cheerleaders not use gestures or chants that may
Bird-Bear said because the policy states UW should deter
teams from bringing American Indian mascots, he would like the university
community to work with the K-12 schools in Wisconsin still using American
Indian mascots and logos to ensure that when they come to UW facilities, they
do not bring their mascots or chants to campus.
Unlike UW, some other Big Ten schools still do not have policies
regarding American Indian mascots.
University of Michigan spokesperson Bruce Madej said
currently the university does not have a policy in place.
As of press time, the University of Illinois was unavailable