Merchandise featuring the discontinued illustration of the Gaucho mascot continues being sold by third party vendors. (Screenshot)
Saddleback decides to redesign the Gaucho
On Jan. 25, the new President of Saddleback College, Elliot Stern, sent an email releasing the results of the student and faculty poll concerning the redesign of Saddleback’s mascot, the Gaucho.
The poll was answered by 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.
The next step for the school is the formation of a working group, made up of stakeholders on campus, to oversee the development of a new design for the mascot.
“We will form a redesign task force in the near future, ensuring that multiple perspectives are represented in that group.”said Stern in the email.
In addition to changing the Gaucho, there are also plans to redesign the “G” that is currently the primary logo for the school. However, due to budgetary constraints, neither the “G” nor the redesigned Gaucho will be immediately replaced around campus, instead they will be slowly phased in over time.
This is not the first time Saddleback College has addressed the issue of the mascot; in 2014, both the Associated Student Government and the Consultation Council voted to remove the old, controversial Gaucho mascot from school material and buildings under pressure from students and faculty, who threatened to paint over the old mascots spread throughout the campus.
Much like the removal of murals featuring the Gaucho in 2014, the decision to only redesign the mascot is not without controversy. Professor Carmenmara Hernandez-Bravo, head of the foreign language department and the Equity and Diversity Committee at Saddleback College, raised concerns over the decision to keep the name.
When she explained why she and other members of the Equity and Diversity Committee would like to see the name removed, Hernandez-Bravo said that gauchos are “very fantasized in literature but in reality [don’t] have anything to do with us.”
According to excerpts from “Making History, the First Years of Saddleback College” posted to Saddleback’s website, the mascot and school colors were chosen by local high school students. Out of the mascots and colors proposed, “the second-place choices were selected. They were Cardinal and Gold and “Gaucho.” The history of the gaucho as a mascot reaffirms Hernandez-Bravo’s argument that the mascot is unrelated to the school.
Normally, when a school is founded, the decision of what mascot is used is left to students who attend the school, they propose potential mascots, which are then voted on by the general student population.
“What I want is Saddleback College students to decide on the name and the design.” said Hernandez-Bravo about a solution.
The decision for a school to redesign their mascot and leave the decision up to current students is not unusual. Currently at Long Beach State University, where the school recently retired their old mascot, Prospector Pete after critics raised concerns that it represented the genocide of indigenous peoples, students are proposing their own ideas for potential new mascots.
CSULB’s decision to rename and redesign their mascot is proof that history and tradition are not overriding factors in keeping controversial names. It is possible for Saddleback to design an inclusive and representative mascot, creating a new tradition for the school.