A common phrase your parents might tell you is “let youryes, be yes.” In other words, if you make a promise tosomeone that you will do something, no matter what, you must liveup to that promise.
Unfortunately for us, as students at EWU, our Administration(led by President Stephen Jordan) doesn’t seem to adhere tothis principle of telling the truth.
What I’m talking about is the situation with the term”savages” and its connotation here at Eastern as itrelates to the bricks at the PHASE. I’m not talking about thethrowback jerseys.
These bricks have, and contiune to give a poor reflection of theself-worth of Native Americans in general.
Kudos to those here at EWU in 1974, who recognized thehistorical context of the term “savage” and chose tochange the name of the mascot.
Although they changed the name, the bricks still haven’tbeen removed.
Recent events lead me to believe that they never will.
In a meeting last month I, along with NASA (Native AmericanStudent Association) and other concerned students and faculty,spoke personally to President Jordan.
We discussed: (1) the possibility of having the bricks removed,(2) the idea to educate those around the campus about historybehind the term “savage,” and (3) the throw-back jerseyissue.
Afterwards, he informed us that he would look into the issue moredeeply.
The following week Keven Shipman, an EWU graduate student, and Iwere involved in another meeting about the brick issue with AngelaBrown, director of the Alumni Association, and Barbara Richey,director of University Relations.
We wanted to get their permission to attend the Alumni weekendfestivities to educate past students (those who feel emotionallytied to their mascot being the “savage”) on what theword means to many Native American students.
They promised us (twice) that the bricks would be removed by thebeginning of the Fall Quarter of 2004.
Barbara and Angela told us that the bricks were going to beremoved with capital money that the university already had savedfor other renovations.
They also said that although the bricks do contain a sense ofhistory for some in the past (mostly Alumni) the present hurt thatthey now have, especially to Native American students, is not worthtaking the time to hold on to even one brick, let alone any.
But then, a few weeks ago, The Easterner reported in an articlethat President Jordan now said that the bricks might beremoved.
A sense of mistrust overcame me.
Did they lie to us?
Did they tell us that the bricks were going to be removed sothat we didn’t anger rich alumni members?
I asked Barbara two times whether or not the bricks would beremoved and again she promised me that they would. No”might” was involved in this at any point.
Words are powerful tools, and “might” can mean a lotof things.
I might win a million dollars tomorrow. There might be Weaponsof Mass Destruction in Iraq. And I might eat a sandwich today.
All three examples leave a sense of indecision of what might ormight not happen.
I want an administration that is straightforward and lets theiryes be yes, one that will get those bricks out of The PHASE likethey said they would.
This is not about making up a racial topic to get exposure.It’s about racial injustice.
The truth is, as long as that fictitious Native Americancharacter sits there with his big nose and terrifying tomahawk-whether we want to admit it or not- we as a University (and thatincludes President Jordan) support the name of the”savage.” Lack of action in this matter, in the end,can be equated with endorsement.
Yes, the “savage” was part of EWU’s history,but I am here to tell you that not everything in history ispraiseworthy.
Think of this: should I put up a rope on a tree to remember thehistory of African Americans being lynched and hung by racistwhites?
That is part of our history.
We all can agree that it is important that we know our history,not to just acknowledge it, but to change things, so we can have abrighter future.
I want to give props to Angela Brown for doing all that shecould concerning the bricks. The truth is, she doesn’t havethe final say to whether or not the bricks will be taken out ornot.
But you and I know who does: President Jordan and hisadministration. So my question to them is: Will you stand up forthe rights of others?
I love this University and want to see us, as a community, fightfor the well being of all people, from all backgrounds.
The removal of the bricks might cost thousands, but it isnothing compared to the cost of not removing them, students hurtand disappointed from a broken promise.