At its June 1996 meeting, the Academy Trustees passed a resolution to keep the Indian as the Shady Side Academy mascot. The sense of that resolution, and as clarified and strengthened at the September 1996 Board meeting, was that the observance and usage of the Indian should be dignified and respectful. In furtherance of that end, Peter Kountz, in a September 1996 memorandum to the Academy community, advised that the display of the Indian head on shirts and uniforms and in costume would not be appropriate. Finally, the resolution, and its clarification, indicated that the Trustees would consider an alternative mascot if the Academy students presented a consensus for change.
During the 1996-97 School Year, the Senior School Student Council and Class Officers developed a position paper on the issue of the Mascot and conducted a three-school survey, which it had been authorized to do by the Trustee Committee on Academic Programs and Student Life, before which the students presented their paper and testimony. 'Me data from the Student Survey and its analysis suggest a high degree of ambiguity on what exactly the students wanted. Further, there is no definite consensus for change, one way or another. From the data and the analysis of it, of those who have returned the survey, it looks as if a slim majority would prefer keeping the Indian mascot, whether or not there were any restrictions placed on its use. The students' work was most impressive, and they were gracious in their willingness to accept whatever the Board of Trustees finally decided. They did ask, however, for some word and guidance by the outset of the new School Year (1997-98) so that they could plan for the Homecoming celebrations.
I have reviewed this matter with the members of the Board of Trustees and with Peter Kountz. The sense is that the appropriate thing to do is to allow, at least for the 1997-98 School Year, the use of the Indian as the Academy mascot. The question is whether any restrictions should be applied. While the display of the Indian head on shirts, etc. would be permitted, it is our feeling that war paint, pseudo-Indian dances or chants, or any similar caricature of Indian history and lore are all inappropriate. - N the other hand, the use of cheers with the use of "Indian" in them and the use of "Indian" in references to teams, etc., are within the bounds of propriety. We strongly believe that the basic premise has to be respect for Native American culture, and we also believe that it is possible to use the Indian mascot respectfully and honorably if people maintain respect for the Native American culture.
Although this is a decision that will not please everyone, we believe it is the most appropriate one given the discussions of and the data from the 1996-97 School Year. We look to the 1997-98 School Year as an opportunity to prove we have made the most appropriate decision. Whatever develops, the Board of Trustees will review the status of the Indian mascot at the end of the 199798 School Year.
Our thanks to all the students and faculty who helped with this important discussion.
Chair, Board of Trustees