Mascot ‘maligned’

I urgently write today on an issue of great importance to the Marquette community. I feel an issue is among us that has not been addressed and affects how we examine ourselves and how the greater society looks at our university. The issue is the name of our institution — Marquette. I believe the name is offensive and demands swift action by the administration in the interests of the university's public image.

The name Marquette — after Pere Marquette, a priest traveling with French explorers in southeastern Wisconsin — is of French origin. As a man of Anglo-Saxon descent, I find this offensive. Throughout history, the French and their militaristic culture committed outrageous acts. In 1066, they launched an atrocious invasion of England using a borrowed English surrogate. In 1789, they had the boldness and audacity to storm a nearly empty criminal prison called the Bastille. More recently, French troops — illegally occupying the Ivory Coast without a U.N. resolution — fired upon and killed demonstrators in Abidjan.

Even though Pere Marquette and the word "Marquette" have no connection to these activities associated with France's raw, violent culture — like the fearless men waiting in the Maginot line during the Faux-War — the connotations are simply irremovable. The Frenchness of the word Marquette offends me as a descendant of people who were probably at one point harassed or annoyed by the cheese-eating, wine-drinking bourgeois of Western Europe. This university cannot afford to be connected in any way with something so gravely offensive, even if the name is not directly related to an offensive historical past and absolutely zero public pressure has initially been brought upon the school to remove the name.

An issue of such gravity to the university community demands swift, immediate action. I believe the administration must act decisively and unilaterally to resolve this problem while there is time. Today I call on University President the Rev. Robert A. Wild to exercise his power as "El Supremo" to change the name of our institution. The immediacy of the situation warrants the abandonment of all other interested parties. One-hundred thousand living alumni — for whom the word "tradition" is equated with "blood" — cannot be trusted to objectively contribute. Neither can 11,000 students, many of whom loyally attend games and indulge in countless university activities.

My compatriots, a solution exists. We are blessed in the state of Wisconsin with an institution that may assist in resolving this dilemma. I believe Marquette must change its name to Cardinal Stritch University. The name of that institution gives this university community a non-offensive name that cultivates ties to the community and will be palatable to all desired interests. I stress "desired." Ignore the fact that other organizations we are athletically or otherwise tied to have this name and that our university will lose uniqueness and excitement. As to similar concerns, forget the fact that the "Cardinal" is in fact a wimpy bird with absolutely no connection to our university in any historical or cultural context. At least this bird lives in North America!

Normally the name "Marquette," a French word, would be open to the interpretation of all native and learned French speakers. But they cannot be trusted to properly rethink the usage of the word and its historical connotations. Therefore I believe the groups that were most historically brutalized — the English and Scots — have the right to decide on the meaning of a French word, even if wrongful acts took place some time ago and most French speakers have no connection to past wrongs.

My friends, we cannot ignore this matter. The university must seek a solution reflecting our "Catholic, Jesuit ideals." To do otherwise would be a shame to our organization and the Catholic, Jesuit ideals that we promote. Wild must promptly act in the interests of a higher purpose independent of the minor opinions of alumni and students.

Collar is a sophomore economics and political science major.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Dec. 7 2004.

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