The Board of Education for the Waterloo Central School District voted last night to replace the district’s former ‘Indians’ mascot a new one- ‘Tigers’- yesterday.
June 13 school board meeting
Superintendent Terri Bavis spoke at the meeting on Monday, June 13. She said the district has had issues of racism in the past.
“The issue of racism starting with our mascot in this district impede our ability to offer a safe and supportive learning environment to all students. And the students have spoken. They want a mascot. They’re not allowed to wear Indian costumes. We took those away six years ago.”
Other speakers included students from the Waterloo Mascot Committee, like Petra O’Connor and Logan Amidon, who were excited to hear they have a new mascot.
“We’re just excited to have something to represent now. We’ve been without a mascot for multiple years. So we just really wanted something to get on our jerseys and go all out for our senior year,” said Amidon.
Changing the name
The official Mascot Search Committee was formed in December 2021 and was charged with creating a process to select a new mascot for Waterloo CSD.
A survey was sent to parents, village residents and alumni on April 22 to collect new mascot ideas.
In May, Waterloo residents had to choose from four different animal names including the Bears, Tigers, Wolves or Wolverines to replace ‘Indians.’
The state has been pressuring schools with Native American nicknames and mascots to change the mascot. Several schools in the Finger Lakes region still have Native American nicknames, including Canandaigua Braves, Red Jacket Indians and the Watkins Glen Senecas.
Senate Bill s1549E prohibits public schools from using a native name, logo, or mascot by September 2024. The bill is currently in the state Senate Education Committee with no update yet on being moved to the floor calendar.
The bill, sponsored by New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, also has the approval of the New York State Commissioner of Education, Betty Rosa and of the National Congress of American Indians.
Opposition in the community
Lauren Stevens, a parent and Waterloo alumni, created a Change.org petition to keep the Indian mascot. The petition got over 1,000 signatures and she spoke to Fingerlakes1.com about why she thinks the school should keep the current mascot.
“To me as a symbol of pride in our area, we are deeply rooted in the Native American history in our area, with the Native American culture, and I see it as a symbol of pride for the area.”
According to a former teacher in the Waterloo CSD, there have been numerous signs in yards in the village supporting the petition. They said they haven’t seen any evidence that the Native Americans in the Finger Lakes region object to the Indian mascot.
“Although I understand the fiscal impact of connecting the mascot change to the capital project, I still believe the move is being done a bit prematurely,” said the former Waterloo CSD teacher.
The new mascot is expected to go into effect next school year.