Physical mascot proceeds controversially

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Manhattan High’s physical mascot is on to the final stage.

At the USD 383 Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, senior student body president Lily Colburn, in conjunction with Manhattan High principal Greg Hoyt, recommended that the board accept the naming of the MHS physical mascot as the wolf.

This recommendation came on the heels of the final vote on Nov. 30, in which students could pick either “No Mascot,” “Bison” or “Wolf.” The final vote totals were 505 students in favor of “No Mascot,” 448 for “Wolf,” and 441 for “Bison.” However, since both the “Wolf” and “Bison” choices were in favor of a physical mascot, 63 percent of the student body was in favor of a physical mascot. As a result, wolf was recommended as the physical mascot choice of the students.

Counting the votes that way wasn’t the choice of a single person or group.

“Independently, as [Student Council student body] executive officers and [StuCo adviser Leslie] Campbell and I,” Colburn said, “we decided that the best way going forward would be to interpret both categories of ‘Yes mascot, bison,’ and ‘Yes mascot, wolf,’ as ‘Yes’ votes. However, when we presented it to Mr. Hoyt, we did not present that to him at first, we simply presented the numbers, got his opinion, and he also agreed with us.”

Influencing the decision was the fact that the student body had voted in favor of a physical mascot in all other rounds.

“When you look at the data without opinion,” Colburn said, “you see that the data collected, through all three rounds of voting, reflects that a majority of students want some sort of physical mascot and that’s the position of myself personally. By looking at the votes, they reflect that students want a physical mascot.”

However, many students opposed the recommendation. They took to Twitter, commenting that since “No Mascot” received the most votes, it should have been the winner. One of their complaints was the structure of the ballot. The ballot asked students to vote for one of the three options, and it didn’t mention how StuCo would count the votes.

“When the ‘No Mascot’ vote received the most support,” senior Caleb Luck said, “I think many students expected the school to recommend ‘No Mascot’. By amalgamating the various mascot votes into a majority, and then choosing to recommend the most popular of the mascot votes, the school inadvertently made some students feel deceived.”

The executive board struggled with how they wanted the ballot to look, before ultimately choosing to give students three options with the opportunity to vote on one.

“I’ll be very honest in saying that it was a time issue,” Colburn said. “It takes a lot of time to count 1,700 ballots and to collect 1,700 ballots. I’ll be honest in saying if I could go back and do it, I would have asked two questions, just to avoid the controversy. I believe that if we would’ve asked two questions, we would’ve had the same results, there’s no doubt in my mind about that. We understand that the time commitment is something that was a given, but we decided to streamline it and, from the beginning, to interpret the data in such a way to see a ‘Yes’ and a ‘No’ vote both.”

Though StuCo and Hoyt have made their recommendation to the board, having a physical mascot is not confirmed yet. The board may still reject the recommendation.

“Ultimately, it’s up to the board,” Colburn said. “If they decide that they don’t agree with the justification, then they don’t have to accept our recommendation. That’s completely up to the board to decide, I have no idea whether they’ll decide one way or the other.”

That vote will take place at the Dec. 20 meeting.

Even through the controversy, Colburn is glad the school cares.

“This is something that people feel very passionately about,” Colburn said, “and I’m glad that everyone takes such pride in our school and in this issue, but I think it’s important that everyone realizes that I’m not out to get them, the administration, Mr. Hoyt is not out to get them. We took the student body’s input and acted and created a recommendation that we believe is most representative of the Manhattan High student body and the way that they voted.”

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Physical mascot proceeds controversially