OXFORD — Talawanda School District’s Braves name and warrior head mascot will stay, the Board of Education announced this week.
The American Indian symbol was the subject of much debate after two groups – the Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice and the Oxford branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People – formed a coalition to change the mascot, citing concerns of racial insensitivity. A third group collected more than 700 signatures to keep the Braves name and logo.
Linda Musmeci Kimball, a proponent of removing the mascot, said she was disappointed by the school board’s decision announced Tuesday, May 18.
“I was very disappointed, not so much in their conclusion, but in the fact that they would not allow for the careful study, which they did not give – I don’t believe – to the issue,” Kimball said.
Similar concerns in Oxford were raised more than a decade ago about Miami University’s mascot, which in 1997 was changed from Redskins to RedHawks.
Board member Mike Crowder said they might have considered a compromise, but he said it was rejected.
“(Superintendent) Phil Cagwin, (board President) Darrell Smith and I met with representatives from the coalition to change the mascot, and we just threw out the possibility of keeping the Braves name and just changing the warrior head on the uniforms as we purchased new ones,” Crowder said. “Right off hand they said no, that is unacceptable ... no compromise at all.”
Board members had individually and collectively received vast amounts of information from the OCPJ and NAACP over a two-month period, so they had plenty of information and time to consider it, Crowder said.
Board member Lois Vollmer said she did not see any reason to change the mascot.
“My opinion was it needed to stay the same – I was not in favor of changing it,” Vollmer said. “I listened very intently and read what I was given, and I read or heard nothing that I thought was offensive to anyone.”
Shawna Campbell, a Talawanda alumna and district parent, took action to keep the Braves mascot by initiating a 701-signature a petition drive.
“The schools are actually the reason we moved back here,” said Campbell, a mother of two. “Both my kids play sports – my youngest one is 8, and he said he wouldn’t play anymore if they changed the mascot.”
Campbell said she hopes the issue has been put to rest and that everyone can move on.
“With everything that’s going on in the world, there are more important things to worry about than changing a school mascot,” she said.