Of Gauchos and administrators

The Gaucho image is still loud and proud in a few buildings across campus. (Johnathan Anson)

The Gaucho image is still loud and proud in a few buildings across campus. (Jonathan Anson)

If you ever walk around Saddleback College you’ve very likely encountered the gaucho, Saddleback College’s mascot. He still resides in places like the gym, athletic centers and the Student Services Center. Though innocent looking and cutely illustrated, the Gaucho is a part of an ongoing controversy and fascinating history.

A quick deductive look should answer why. The Gaucho, rather than looking like an actual gaucho, looks like a bandito. The little fellow’s image is very ethnically insensitive and historically inaccurate.

Students brought the issue to the Academic Senate in 2010, said Kenneth Brady, the Secretary of the Academic Senate. After much deliberation, senate members voted to pass a resolution to ban the image from use. The motion was passed and the Gaucho was removed from campus.

But Gaucho images continued to linger and students noticed. Again they got angry and another petition for removal was filed. As reported by the Lariat, on November 5, 2013, the Associated Student Government and the Consultation Council repeated their vote to reiterate their position to ban the Gaucho. Unlike last time, the gaucho has stayed up.

Brady was at a loss to understand what the holdup is. He even nicely offered to “donate a gallon of paint or a bottle of white out” to help get rid of the image.

Dan Walsh, the President of the Academic Senate, was at a loss to explain it too. What they are both sure of is that the image is offensive to multiple cultures. For that reason alone, they both agree, the image should be removed.

If that’s true, why is the image still up? It’s now February and the gaucho still remains up despite it no longer being allowed on campus. There’s been no set date for removal and no direct attempts at erasing him. Practically nothing has been done to remove the gaucho.

That’s where the real problem lies. The continuing debate over the Saddleback Gaucho is hiding a blatant failure of the school administration to do one simple thing: finish what they start. Students and teachers, no matter the school, are entitled to proactive administrators who can act. That’s not what’s happening at Saddleback College as this debacle over the gaucho shows.

As reported last year by the Lariat, the Academic Senate voted, starting next semester, to ban the use of cigarettes, both tobacco and electronic. The ban will be campus-wide at both Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College. That should make a number of questions pop up. Chief among those questions should be this one: if the school can’t swiftly accomplish their goal of removing an image campus-wide, how can they be expected to do the same with cigarettes or any other issue for that matter?