ROSEBURG, Ore.-- The Roseburg School Board held a work session meeting Wednesday night to discuss the future of Roseburg High School's mascot, the Indians.
No decision was made on the mascot, but a majority of board members support the name change. All board members agreed changing the mascot has been a hard topic to tackle. They recognized the high level of involvement from both sides of the argument. However, all but one board member want to change the name.
Charles Lee, who sits on position five, said he understands words change meaning over time but he doesn't agree that the word 'Indian' has made a harmful impact on students. He referenced studies that show cartoons and caricatures of cultures can create a negative impact. but he said he doesn't see how a word can do similar harm if there are no studies backing it. Lee also said people in the community do not use the word 'Indian' with mal intent. Simply it's a way for them to be proud of their community.
Other board members countered Lee's arguments with the board chair, Rebecca Larson, saying having one child feel unwelcomed in the district because of the word 'Indian', is one too many. Micki Hall, who sits in position two, said she knows the intention of using 'Indian' as a mascot wasn't meant to be negative, but the impact of the word has changed over time.
Rodney Cotton, who sits on position four, said he's changed his mind and supports a name change. He told the board there's a bigger issue rooted in the community and that's racism. Changing the name will help address the issue, but he said the community needs to have a heart-to-heart conversation about the topic.
"I've had board members and I've had professional people comment that people won't stop in Roseburg because we're considered racist," Cotton said. "Or professionals won't come to Roseburg because we're considered racist. Does the community know that?"
The board has not yet set a date on when they will make a decision on the future of the mascot.