Is the University of Denver's hunt for a new mascot turning into a Boone-doggle? That's what some alumni are wondering after attending a Thursday focus group, part of a campus-wide process to calm controversy and select a new mascot. Denver Boone, a coonskin cap-wearing caricature, was adopted as the image of the DU Pioneers back in 1968; although he was banished three decades later, Chancellor Robert Coombe agreed in 2008 that Boone could return in an unofficial capacity. But now that era is over.
And this time, it sounds like there's no possibility of Boone, who just won our Readers' choice for Best Mascot, will be coming back.
Adam Odekirk, a 2006 DU graduate, says that "shocking revelation" didn't come until the end of last night's focus group, which included a half-dozen alumni and a third-party moderator. Odekirk was invited to participate because he'd sent a letter about Boone to the alumni office, he explains, and he agreed to join in because "they assured me that this was an informational gathering."
So all the participants talked openly about what kind of characteristics they'd want DU's new mascot to have, and even discussed what kind of compromises might be possible to make an acceptable version of Boone. "One thing we all unanimously agreed on," he adds, "is we would all feel comfortable if there was a vote, and if Boone was a candidate."
That's why Odekirk says he was shocked to learn at the end of the meeting that no matter what comes up in the focus groups and discussions now being conducted on the DU campus, Boone is not going to be a candidate. That echoes what Coombe's said in a letter to the DU campus on March 13, after the Undergraduate Student Government voted to look for a new mascot, but alums in the group were still surprised that there was no possibility of compromise.
In fact, although the university is committed to the "Pioneers" name, the focus-group leaders said the mascot will not be any kind of frontiersman. Or frontierswoman.
Which leaves what? "When we think of a Pioneer," Odekirk says, "we don't want it to be nonsensical, don't want it to be an animal."
Sounds like all that might be left is a Boone-doggle.
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