Red Raiders reconsidered

Davis Corman, News Editor

As calls for social justice continue to rise across the country, Bellefonte Area School District has had to face a pressing issue. Now, after community-led campaigns and multiple petition posts, one question remains: Does Bellefonte’s Red Raider mascot need to change?

Since the introduction in 1936, Bellefonte Area School District has been known as the Red Raiders. What many believe to be the school mascot is actually the school logo. Bellefonte has not had a mascot since the 1990s and such a term has been wrongfully coined throughout the community. Even so, for a long time, this was accepted as appropriate. However, as protests sweep the nation and outcries for social justice have been pushed to the head front, it has raised some concerns over the potential racism behind the logo. 

Around three months ago, a petition was created by a group titling themselves “concerned alumni” that initiated the push to change the symbol. Though it had been mentioned before, this was one of the first major efforts made to replace it. The petition includes multiple links, quotes, and information about the racist rhetoric around Native American mascots. One of the main points mentioned within the article was that the majority of Native Americans believe as though Native mascots are racist and appropriate their culture. The petition quotes the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), which states how the mascots were “born in an era when racism and bigotry were accepted by the dominant culture.” And how “the intolerance and harm promoted by these ‘Indian’ sports mascots, logos, or symbols, have very real consequences for Native people.” Since the petition was started on change.org, it quickly caught the attention of locals achieving, as of today, over 4,000 signatures.

The alumni’s petition drew backlash from community locals who then started a counter petition. Though it has already been taken down, the petition drew in over 5,000 signatures. A mass community-led campaign has also started in order to fight back against changing the Bellefonte logo. The campaign has resulted in hundreds of signs to be put in community members’ yards with the phrase “Save Our Mascot” on them. There has even been a small rally held outside of the local Faith Center. 

With these events, much of the rhetoric coming from the pro-Bellefonte emblem side is the want to “appreciate without appropriating.” They believe with having the mascot as the Red Raider that they can honor the Native culture in ways that don’t appropriate it.

The Red and White newspaper staff sent a poll to the students of BAHS on Monday, September 14. As of Wednesday, September 18, over 300 students responded, revealing that 71% of respondents agreed that the current logo should remain, around 17% responded that they wanted to see it change, and the remaining 12% reported a neutral stance, or no opinion at all.

Even with both sides having strong support for the backing of their views, the ultimate decision is decided by the Bellefonte School Board. 

According to the School Board President\ John Guizar, “It was decided that this would not be an item of business to come before the board at this time.” 

He goes on to say, however, that with certain concerns such as the logo, it falls “directly into the view of a comprehensive equity and diversity review that was started by our previous Superintendent. As such, the review is gearing-up to address these accusations and more.” 

From the time being he urges anyone wanting to get involved to “Please be patient. Let the administration go through the process and report findings and suggestions to our district and community.”