Rutland students weigh in on mascot reversal

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 6:25 PM EST
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Rutland High School is once again known as the home of the “Raiders.” The Rutland City School Board retired the name and arrowhead logo last year after deeming it offensive and hurtful to indigenous people, but the move triggered a backlash in the community. After a confrontational meeting last week, the board voted 6 to 5 to reverse course. But how do students feel about being left out of the process?

“People I talk to and people I know would say it’s definitely pro-Raider,” said Olivia Calvin, a senior at Rutland High who served on the mascot committee. She likes the nickname but is against the arrowhead imagery in the logo. “Being a raider is teamwork, passion, just a sense of community. No matter what team I’m on, I just feel like I’m proud to be a Rutland Raider, to represent my school as a whole.”

Kathryn Moore, a senior, was also on the committee and feels the same. “We actually had a game the night that it happened and we were like, ‘So everything... we can go back to everything?’ And we ended up winning by a lot and everyone was like, ‘The Raiders are back!’” she said.

Moore says she views the Raiders name with pride. At first, she didn’t understand why some view the nickname as racist, but after learning more, she feels that eliminating the arrowhead should answer those concerns. “I know in the past it was the ‘Red Raider,’ which I can see that but I think the Raiders by itself -- no arrowhead -- I don’t think it is,” she said.

But others, like Emilia Sabataso, a junior, want to cut all ties to the name. She got involved in the effort over the summer, learning about indigenous backgrounds and oppression. “When it was changed from Raiders to Ravens I was relieved,” she said.

Zakaria Arshad, a senior, never had a strong attachment to the Raiders name and thought Ravens was a good choice. “I don’t think I’ve heard many people saying, ‘Oh, I really wanted to be the Ravens,’ necessarily. A lot of people just say, ‘I don’t care, I really don’t care what our mascot is.’ And then a lot of people are saying, ‘We need to be the Raiders,’” Arshad said.

One thing students do agree on is wishing the school board had included them in the decision. “I think it just needs to be every student has a voice and their vote is their voice,” Calvin said.

“The school board probably wouldn’t have to go through all these meetings and the yelling that has happened in the last meetings. That might have resolved it if we would have had a more definitive answer,” Arshad said.

Rutland City School District Superintendent Bill Olsen says the students were asked what new name they would like to see but never if they wanted to keep the Raider name. “The moniker that we use is significant to them, so I do think students should have a part of that process,” he said.

Olsen says the district administration must follow the direction of the board. At this time, the name has changed back but they are not using the arrowhead and most signage that had Raiders now says Rutland.

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