Bellefonte plans special meeting to discuss mascot

BELLEFONTE — The Bellefonte mascot controversy refuses to go away.

The Bellefonte School board will hold a board work session at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 2. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss potential next steps and any other matters that may come up relative to the ongoing mascot discussion. Since it is a work session, there will be no votes taken and no opportunity for public comment.

At this past Tuesday’s school board meeting, a board member questioned why there had been no discussion about the mascot in recent months.

“I’d like to see us re-visit the mascot discussion,” said board member Kristen Bruckner. “We haven’t had that on the agenda for a couple of months and it’s kind of been hanging out there for awhile, so I’d like to see our next steps on the agenda.”

Board president Jon Guizar said that there has been ongoing discussion about the mascot issue.

“As it was stated at the last meeting, we are trying to figure out the next steps. There was another discussion on what that might look like. That is in the works,” Guizar said.

Bruckner then pressed Guizar on the issue.

“Is it a month? Is it three months? I mean, this has been going on since June. I think it’s time we start moving this process along,” Bruckner said.

Fellow board member Rodney Musser also questioned why there had been no discussion.

“This is an issue that’s not going to go away,” he said.

The Red Raider mascot has been a hot topic in the community since last summer, when a petition appeared on Change.org to have the Red Raiders mascot and logo removed from Bellefonte Area School District’s schools. The petition was started by a group of Bellefonte Area High School alumni. Organizers of the petition claimed the current mascot and logo “promote and reinforce bigotry, racism and harmful stereotypes.”

At the time, they stated that “the Bellefonte community deserves a new school logo and mascot that is anti-racist, anti-bias, all-inclusive, and honors our great community and its history! Our students deserve better than the ‘Red Raider.'”

However, a counter-petition to “Save the Red Raider Mascot” was started and yard signs began popping up in the community.

According to a database of mascots in the United States, there are at least 486 schools that reference “Raiders.” A total of 15 of those schools are in Pennsylvania. About 82 percent of the 486 team names belong to high schools.

In addition to the nickname “Red Raider,” the Indian head logo and name is featured throughout schools in the district. The high school gymnasium features a logo at midcourt and two on the scoreboard. The words Red Raiders appear on the baseline and behind both basketball hoops.

At North Hills High School in Pittsburgh, a similar petition was started to change the “Indians” mascot and nickname. The district determined that changing logos, signage and sports uniforms would likely cost the district more than $1 million.


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