University of Denver Bans “Denver Boone” As Offensive

150px-Boone2This cartoon is at the center of a controversy at the University of Denver. We have previously discussed the trend to eliminate such school symbols as Chief Illini and others. Unlike some of these controversies, “Denver Boone” is not based on a tribe but is a cartoon character designed by a Walt Disney cartoonist. However, the University of Denver has voted to ban its use as offensive.

Ironically Denver Boone was a vast improvement over the original mascot. From 1867 to the early 1920s, the University of Denver was known as the “Fighting Parsons” to honor the school’s Methodist founders. In the annals of mascots, that just might be the worst. Of course, there are the Boll Weevils (University of Arkansas at Monticello), the Banana Slugs (University of California-Santa Cruz), Fighting Okra (Delta State), Artichokes (Scottsdale Community College) and of course The Fighting Pickles (North Carolina School of the Arts). (I actually like the Poets at Whittier College).

The University of Denver transitioned in 1925 to the Pioneers with obvious reference to its early settlements. That became Pioneer Pete in the 1930s — a rugged, coonskin capped trapper.

While many have called for the return of Denver Boone, as he became known, the school declared him a persona non grata. Instead, they replaced him with a red-tailed hawk known as Ruckus, which was a colossal failure.

Nevertheless, people have been a bit ambiguous why the character is racist and sexist — both objections made by some students and faculty. Chancellor Robert Coombe insisted that “Boone was a polarizing figure that did not reflect the growing diversity of the UD community, but rather was an image that many women, persons of color, international students and faculty members found difficult to relate to as defining the pioneering spirit.”

Even if the association with Daniel Boone was not optimal, it is not clear why Pioneer Pete was also rejected. Indeed, any connection between Boone and Colorado is highly speculative and he never wore a coonskin cap. Pioneer Pete would seem a more fitting name. However, it is the image and not just the Boone association that has drawn criticism as racist or sexist.

The university insists that this is simply a case of a student body developing a new sense of identity and diversity. However, the controversy has grown after the Undergraduate Student Government passed a bill on Feb. 27, 2013 to bar the use of the mascot – a move that critics insist is opposed to the wishes of the majority of students.

The University is not backing down and insists that it will not go back regardless of polls of the student body. Currently the school posted a “to be determined” mascot.

63 thoughts on “University of Denver Bans “Denver Boone” As Offensive”

  1. for years i have criticized the fuss over cartoon mascots of minorities being considered racist by pointing to cartoon mascots of white people. now, it seems, the liberals have covered all their bases. any cartoon of a human being is racist.

  2. If I were a student at DU, I might object to Denver Boone, not because I find him insensitive to women or non-whites, but rather because he looks like a leprechaun dressed in drag. That is not what I want for a school mascot.

  3. Actually I am kind of offended by really cute Disney characters.

    I am just not sure that is what they are getting at.

    And what are they getting at anyway – that Denver Boone is male, that he is white, that he is a pioneer?

    When I get indignant I usually prefer to be a little clearer about the object of my scorn.

  4. Using a white male icon to represent any large diverse group is inherently racist and sexist, period. You should all be ashamed.

  5. With all the seriously bad crap going on the nation and the world right now, this is what you lot in Denver choose to get upset about?


    The phrase, “You’ve lost all critical perspective” does come to mind.

  6. In protest, ΔΤΧ National President Donald “Boon” Schoenstein revoked the charter of the University of Denver’s Delta Tau Chi fraternity and placed Chancellor Robert Coombe on Double Secret Probation.

  7. The Denver Post reports that T. Boone Pickens just revoked his Two Million Dollar gift to the school.

  8. I guess whatever arguments are advanced for and against, and regardless of their relative merit, change is all part a livin’.

  9. raff, I didn’t know you were a Saluki. I have two good friends[sisters] who are Salukis. They lived in Carbondale, so they were whatever you dorm folks called the locals. One went to Illinois law school, the other to Loyola law school. The first one became a corporate attorney, and the latter a public defender and then a barrister in the UK. They are as opposite as you could expect politically.

  10. A 2002 Sports Illustrated poll showed 81% of Indians who live off the reservation/agency, and 53% of those who live on the reservation/agency, have no objections to Indian mascots. In my unscientific poll, 97% of all university administrators are obsessed w/ political correctness and need to visit the real world on occasion.

  11. Why don’t they go with Bi Polar. Cartoon of a South Pole and North Pole with nothing in between except some Dot titled Denver.

  12. I do not understand what the fuss is about on this one. I fail to see who can be harmed or insulted because the mascot is a male human being or wears pioneer clothing. I will stick with my Salukis!

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