Saltine Warrior Debate Continues  
Syracuse Herald American
Sunday, March 5, 1978
By Richard G. Cask

There's a little blood on the traditional Syracuse University orange this week.The issue is the Saltine Warrior, the university's sports mascot and symbol. A few weeks ago, Syracuse officials decided to drop the Warrior and replace it with a new one. The action followed formal objections from a group of native American students who said the mascot was racist and degrading. Expelling the mascot, a tradition of at least 70 years on the campus, apparently was not a completely popular decision, particularly among university alumni and sports fans.

Reaction, so far, ranged from a part-Sioux graduate student who dropped out of the university in protest to undergraduates who said they don't care what the mascot is.

The student newspaper, the Daily Orange, urged the university to "Keep the Saltine Warrior" in on editorial Friday.

Pressure Tactics

Editor-in-Chief Thomas Coffey, a sophomore in communications from Staten Island, wrote that the university "should not abandon a symbol due to the pressure tactics of a well-organiyed minority." Coffey, in his editorial, called the decision hasty and accomplished "without any input from students or alumni."

In a letter opposite the editorial, Onkwehonwenha, the Native American organization on campus, argued that the issue is a larger one. It calls attention. according to the statement, "to the total absence of services for native students at SU."

The group described the Warrior, who appeared in the form of a white fraternity member at football and basketball games since 1951, as a "painted, feathered, warcrazed, half-naked fool."

The mascot made what university officials said was a final appearance at an SU basketball game at Manley Field House last week. The decision, they indicated, was firm.

Not Referendum

Speaking of the contest to pick a new mascot, Melvin C. Mounts, vice president for university affairs, said "This isn't a referendum. We're not voting on whether to keep the Saltine Warrior. That decision has been made."

The action on the ban was taken by Mount's office with what was described by another university official as the "knowledge and support" of Chancellor Melvin Eggers and the board of trustees.

Deadline for nominations of a new mascot is Friday to the Office of Student Activities in Steele Hall. Mounts said any one may contribute an idea. He said he was not familiar with suggestions submitted so far, but hoped a decision could be made by a five-member committee, which he heads, by March 27.Other members are Ulysses J. Connor, director of student activities, and three representatives of the fraternity responsible for the mascot.

"We're looking for the best ideas we can find." Mounts explained, adding that "it is conceivable that none of the ideas will be acceptable" and a decision might be postponed beyond the March 27 deadline.

Some Not Serious

Connor said some of the suggestions he has seen so far do not appear to be serious. A sampling of student opinion on the subject taken by a class in the Newhouse School of Public Communications turned up ideas ranging from animals of the Iroquois clans to animated oranges to singerAnita Bryant.

"I can guarantee you it won't be an orange," Connor said.Andrew Burns, the student who played the Warrior, suggested "a warrior symbol of some kind. We need something to put fear into the other team — a viking, Attila the Hun, something."

The informal sampling of opinion by the Newhouse students yielded a variety of reactions. A forestry student said he did not think the Warrior was "an ethnic slam. I am part Indian and the Warrior mascot doesn't bother me." He suggested the mascot be kept. A senior said she thought "it's a tragedy that a tradition has to go down the drain."

Warpaint Degrading

A classmate, who is a Native American, replied she felt "the man at the football and basketball games who ran around with warpaint on his face was degrading to the American Indian. War paint was worn only during time of war and was considered a serious matter."

A student broadcaster commented that he felt Syracuse was merely following the lead of other schools, such as Dartmouth and Stanford, where Indian mascots were dropped. "Why not Syracuse?" he asked.

A freshman among those questioned said he didn't understand Native American objection to the symbol. "They should be proud that the Indian has been chosen to represent the scnool," he explained. Another student said he did understand but felt the mascot should be kept "and try to change his image" as a "savage with a tomahawk."

A sophomore described the issue as "silly. I don't really think we need a mascot."

An Insult

Hut a fellow sophomore used the word "anarchromsm" in her reply. "I think it's out of date," she said. "It's an insult to the Indian peoples, holding a myth that's not worth keeping."

"Why an Indian? " another asked. "How does that represent our school?" A junior responded that "Tradition is important because it draws everybody together. If I were an Indian, I would feel proud that Syracuse has chosen an Indian." He suggested using a reindeer as a new mascot, "because the weather here is always snow."

The student surveyors also turned up some apathy on the subject. "I could care less about what happens," a student answered. "If the Indians want to fight this, let them."

For his part, Edward Noble, a graduate student in education, said he preferred to switch. In a letter published in the Herald-Journal last week, he revealed he had decided to drop out of his program as a protest to what he termed "caving into pressure of a minority group" by the university administration.

Feelings Genuine

Noble told The Herald-American yesterday while he had considered leaving the university before the Warrior decision, "my feelings arc very genuine. I just killed two birds with one stone." The student, who comes from Minnesota, had a paternal grandmother who was a full-blooded Sioux. Noble said he found "nothing disgraceful or undignified" in the mascot and considered it "good public relations for Indians. But that, I guess, depends on your perspective. "Personally, he explained, "I feel a terrible disgust toward the administration for being disloyal to Syracuse traditions and ignoring the wishes of thousands of students for 20 or 30."

Both the chancellor's and the alumni offices reported yesterday no evidence of strong reaction against the decision from alumni or others. Harry Yeiser Jr., vice president for development, said he knew of no reaction, "Pro or con," from the university's large corps of graduates. "Nothing has shown up as yet," he said, "except a little talk among alumni about the issue when we meet with various groups."

Yeiser said the only letter he had seen on the issue carried a postscript from a woman graduate who described the Warrior as "a harmless fellow."

Officials said university literature, such as stationery used by the Athletic Department, would be phased out if it carries the Warrior logo. The material would be replaced with an engraving of the new mascot, they said.