Students challenge Warrior in first forum

Students had their first opportunity to present their views on whether to change the university's mascot back to the Warrior Tuesday at the first of four forums sponsored by Marquette Student Government and the Residence Hall Association.

About 20 students and one alumna attended the session, which was in the Alumni Memorial Union Ballroom D and moderated by Rana Altenburg, vice president of Public Affairs.

Altenburg said the forum is a way for students to become more informed before they take the university's online survey.

The survey is meant to gauge the attitudes and emotions of students, alumni, faculty and staff about Marquette's past, present and future logos, nicknames and mascots, according to a university press release.

All the information gathered at the forums will be synthesized into a report to help the Board of Trustees make a final decision, Altenburg said.

"It's very positive the way the administration responded to students being involved in this," said MUSG President Timothy Lefeber, a College of Health Sciences senior. "It's important to recognize what the administration has done and the steps they've taken to engage as many people as they can in the Marquette community."

Students touched upon several topics in the discussion, including the definition of "warrior," what the university's Catholic values mean in terms of the nickname issue, how people felt about the information gathering process and how this issue may affect Marquette's diversity.

Altenburg said several students suggested MUSG should hold a panel with representatives from the American Indian community in order to learn their positions.

Students harbored mixed feelings on the nickname issue and about the forum itself.

"I feel that there's more important things that the university can concentrate than on just the mascot and logo," said Andrew Brodzeller, a College of Arts & Sciences senior who attended the forum and spoke to the Tribune afterward.

"The fact that (Warriors) can be taken in a derogative way, I think should say something that we can't do it," said Megan Martin, a senior in the College of Nursing.

Martin said because Marquette has a mission statement to protect human dignity, the university should not revert to Warriors.

Altenburg said attendees felt they received information about the issue they may not have received otherwise when she distributed copies of several university press releases, the Board of Trustees' September resolution and a timeline of Marquette's mascot.

"The amount of dialogue that students had with each other — I think that was productive and I think it helped people understand other peoples' points of view," Altenburg said after the event. "Anytime we can bring people together to talk about issues that are emotional and leave the room still smiling … is a good thing."

Lefeber said he expected more students to come but understands attendance may have been affected by the men's basketball game at the same time, late publicity and Marquette's Internet failing Monday, which affected e-mail flow.

"I think people realize there's more opportunities and if they really want to share how they feel on this they will attend one of the forums," Lefeber said.

Tuesday's forum was the first in a series of four student forums. The next one is scheduled for today in Schroeder Hall's dining room at 8 p.m. and is open to residents from Schroeder and Cobeen halls, Carpenter Tower and Straz Tower and the Hilton Hotel.

The third forum is set for Monday at 7 p.m. in AMU Ballroom D and is open to all students.

Mashuda Hall's second floor ballroom is the venue for the fourth forum, scheduled for Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. Residents in McCormick, South, Haggerty, O'Donnell and Mashuda halls can attend.