SOUTHEASTERN Oklahoma State has discussed future of mascot

Monday, May 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DURANT, Okla. (AP) _ Officials at Southeastern Oklahoma State University have discussed getting rid of the school's ``Savages'' moniker because some consider it offensive.

While Southeastern President Glen Johnson said getting rid of the mascot could only happen after several more months of talks, he said the school is not dismissing the issue.

``I have asked the strategic planning council to determine if any change would be appropriate based on the school's long-term goal and mission,'' Johnson said. ``At this time we are under no deadline to make a decision. We want to proceed slowly to ensure that all points of view are heard.''

Johnson said no further talks are scheduled since Southeastern's school year ends May 12. He said the topic may be picked up again in the fall.

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission recently advised non-Indian schools to stop using Indian names and mascots, saying such names or mascots could be in violation of anti-discrimination laws.

Southeastern is one of two regional universities in Oklahoma dealing with controversy over mascot names. Northeastern State University in Tahlequah stopped using all visual representations of its mascot, the Redmen, but continues to use the name.

Ross Swimmer, former Cherokee chief and former director of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, said society should stop using names found offensive by any minority ethnic group.

``It was thought to be appropriate at a time, but now times have changed,'' Swimmer said.

A student group known as the Native American Council has asked Southeastern officials to ban the use of the Savages name on team uniforms.

``If you look up the word 'savage,' it describes a person who is bloodthirsty and uncivilized,'' said Brian Buntz, a Southeastern physics major.

He has developed a Web site to protest the continued use of the Savages name.

``I think (President Johnson) is trying to postpone things so that it will die down,'' Buntz said of the controversy. ``I don't know if it will die down.''