Saddleback removes racist mascot images around campus

A close up of Saddleback’s mascot soon to disappear due to complaints of discrimination (photograph/Hannah Tavares).

On Nov. 21, Carmenmara Hernandez Bravo, a member of the International and Diversity Student Council at Saddleback College, contacted President Elliot Stern and informed him about the image in the Village cafeteria. The President took direct action to remove the depictions.

The image was painted over the next morning after the message reached President, which he then informed campus operations and asked for the image to be removed as well as two other images that appeared in the Village of the culturally insensitive Gaucho mascot were removed.

“We will continue to remove and/or paint over historical depictions that dishonor the Gaucho until the last one is gone,” says Jennie McCue director of marketing and communications at Saddleback, in a written statement to the Lariat. “The college’s gaucho mascot workgroup is currently overseeing a college-wide process to establish a new visual interpretation of the mascot that honors it and the culture from which it comes.”

Bravo, who informed the President, is a part of the IDSC, is working on a resolution to stop usage of the image and to implement another standing on the term Gaucho. Efforts of Saddleback removing the images started two years ago, for the gym, Student Services Center, and other campus locations had the depictions removed. “We will continue to remove and/or paint over historical depictions that dishonor the Gaucho until the last one is gone,” says McCue.

As for the Saddleback students voted on Jan. 25, as the new President of Saddleback College, Stern sent an email releasing the results of the student and faculty poll concerning the redesign of Saddleback’s mascot, the Gaucho.

The results out of 6,693 faculty, staff, students, and alumni, a relatively high response rate for a school poll. 66.5 percent of students and alumni voted to keep the Gaucho, and 64.4 percent of faculty and staff voted to do the same. And it was Carmenmara Hernandez Bravo back in 2014, who was head of the foreign language department, and the Equity and Diversity Committee at Saddleback College raised concerns over the decision to keep the name.

Responding to the Lariat, that gauchos are “very fantasized in literature but in reality [don’t] have anything to do with us,” says Bravo. “What I want is Saddleback College students to decide on the name and the design.”

For the decision in 2014, Saddleback College Academic Senate reaffirmed that the Gaucho mascot is not to be used by any college entity for any purposes moving forward.  For in 2010, the Associated Student Government passed a resolution to change the representation of the Gauchos’ mascot. The vote was passed with a majority of the vote to help change the mascot to become more culturally appropriate.

But in that same year in 2014, Assistant Athletics Director, Jerry Hannula stated: “The mascot is currently displayed in 95 percent of the Athletics Division.” Hannula explained to the Lariat, that in his 24 years at Saddleback no one has complained to him directly about the mascot. “We thought it was going to be a done deal. We were not going to have the logo anymore, but it started showing up again,” at the time, Academic Senate President Dan Walsh said.

Student response to the Gaucho mascot:

The movement to get the racist images removed at Saddleback College mascot is in full gear. For the number of 95 percent of the images, stated by Hannula, is just a fraction of what it was five years ago. But others like Bravo, who are still uncovering depictions around campus, almost ten years later after the ASG began their plan to remove the images off-campus. If the students are not ready for change, Saddleback College, with the ASG, is in full effect to remove the dark past of Saddleback College and correct its cultural representation or moralistic values.