Alumni express shame, frustration at nickname

Wednesday's announcement of the new athletic nickname "Gold" drew sharp critical reactions from alumni contacted by the Tribune and mild praise from area Native Americans who were more relieved "Warriors" wasn't used than they were pleased by the new nickname.

"Marquette distinguished itself today," said Mark Denning, a 1983 alumnus and the original First Warrior. "They're trying to do the best they can with what they have."

Other American Indians shared Denning's enthusiasm that Warriors will not be used.

"We're extremely pleased and happy they were able to register our concerns," said Ray DePerry, president of the Great Lakes Intertribal Council and a vocal Warrior opponent. He said after no decision was reached in the December 2004 meeting of the board of trustees, the council was worried the board had chosen Warriors.

Alumni were almost universally against the "Gold."

"It seems (the board of trustees) shot themselves in the foot," said Andrew Fish, a 1997 alumnus of the College of Engineering and leader of the New Warriors, an alumni group supporting the Warriors nickname. "We went from generic to more generic."

Feelings ranged from frustration to humiliation.

"We need to ask who came up with this idea," said Stan Zurawski, a 1981 alumnus of the College of Business Administration. "This is an embarrassment."

Others understood the decision not to go with Warriors but still thought the end result lacked in creativity.

"What is a Gold?" asked Joseph Slezak, a 1973 alumnus of the College of Speech.

"It's the worst concept to try to motivate anyone. They need to go back and find something."

While he was in favor of Warriors, he said he understood that Warriors may not have been the best decision either.

The decision reminded David Michels, a 1994 alumnus of the College of Arts & Sciences, of the change from Warriors to Golden Eagles during his time.

Back then "change was made without input from the student body," Michels said. "Overall, most of us wanted to stay" with Warriors.

But "if we're going to make a change, we might as well go back," he said.

Even alumni who were not students during the Warrior era questioned the change.

Andrea Wentland, a 2003 College of Health Sciences graduate, said the new nickname is not very intimidating.

"I was for the Warrior, but I would rather have the name stay Golden Eagles," Wentland said.

She said current students should have been able to vote on the new name.

Alumni are unconvinced the new nickname will be successful.

"I've talked to other alumni, and they think it's foolish and we'll be a laughingstock," Fish said.

Zurawski agreed.

"We are going to be ridiculed."

Jackie Palank of the Tribune staff contributed to this report.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on May 5 2005.