This is Herky the Hawk, the “athletic mascot” of the University of Iowa (UI).
A journalism professor conceived of Herky in 1948, and, 11 years later, he took to the field as a mascot! He’s been the symbol of Iowa ever since. However, two years ago they replaced the old Herky (below) with the current version, above. Old Herky: football helmet, no teeth (i.e. anatomically accurate), and not much of a frown. New Herky: no helmet, teeth, and fierce looking. This upset some Iowa fans.
Now there’s been a lot of criticism of school mascots lately: they can conjure up images of racism, slavery, and xenophobia, and some of these criticisms are correct. I don’t, for instance, approve of stereotyped Native American “mascots”. Nor do I approve of live animals being paraded on the football field, like lions, bears, tigers and eagles. Those things belong in the wild.
But Herky? He’s not a real hawk, and he doesn’t evoke any emotions or images involving bigotry, oppression, or othering, right? So you can’t really object to Herky as a mascot, amirite?
Nope. You haven’t realized the depth to which Regressive Leftism has insinuated its tentacles into college life.
According to the August 24 Iowa City Press-Citizen, a UI Professor has strenuously objected to Herky for—wait for it—its lack of emotional variety as well as its perpetually angry expression. (Has she ever looked at a hawk?). I can’t do better than quote from the paper:
A University of Iowa professor is asking for the Department of Athletics to allow the university’s mascot, Herky the Hawk, to display a wider array of facial expressions in university publications.
“I believe incoming students should be met with welcoming, nurturing, calm, accepting and happy messages,” Resmiye Oral, a clinical professor of pediatrics at UI, wrote recently in an email to UI athletic department officials. “And our campus community is doing a great job in that regard when it comes to words. However, Herky’s angry, to say the least, faces conveying an invitation to aggressivity and even violence are not compatible with the verbal messages that we try to convey to and instill in our students and campus community.”
The email was included in a message Oral sent Tuesday morning to other members of the UI Faculty Senate, where she is one of the representatives from the UI Carver College of Medicine.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Oral said she has been concerned for some time with the lack of emotional variety displayed in the images of the university’s long-standing mascot — specifically the Fighting Herky, the “Old School” Flying Herky and the Tigerhawk logo developed by retired Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry.
Her intention, she said, is to bring diversity to how Herky feels, not to eliminate the ambitious, competitive, go-getter Herky.
Oral’s message to the Faculty Senate came in response to a series of posters and fliers on campus with messages welcoming new students — “On Iowa! Welcome Class of 2020! You’ll always be a Hawkeye. This is where it begins” — atop the images of Herky or the Tigerhawk.
“I would like to bring to the Faculty Senate’s attention that the attached Herky images are totally against the nonviolent, all accepting, nondiscriminatory messages we are trying to convey through campus,” Oral wrote in the email to her fellow senate members.
Oral stressed that she thinks the iconic images of Herky definitely have a place within the highly competitive nature of college athletics, but she wants other parts of the university to have some nonaggressive options for using such a beloved symbol.
“As we strive to tackle depression, suicide, violence, and behavioral challenges and help our students succeed, I plead with you to allow Herky to be like one of us, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, sometimes angry, sometimes concentrated,” she wrote.
The suggestion Dr. Oral —why isn’t she a mouth doctor?—was given to a new faculty and staff committee devoted to “working on the larger issue of ensuring that the university climate is one that is safe, inclusive and supportive of all of our community.” I won’t comment on that, but here’s their response to Dr. Oral’s thoughtful suggestions for Herky:
At this time, the committee is not focused specifically on how Herky is depicted,” said Thomas Vaughn, an associate professor of public health and president of the UI Faculty Senate.
Translation: “Leave us alone!”
Now this is one isolated professor, but she’s clearly infected with the Regressive Virus. By implying that Herky is actually violent, much less prone to inspire thoughts of violence, suicide, and depression in students, Dr. Oral shows she’s clearly drunk the Kool-Aid. And how is Herky supposed to show a diversity of expressions like happiness, puzzlement, concentration, and so on? It’s a plastic head, for crying out loud! Or perhaps she’s suggesting that there be a variety of Herky Heads that are changed during breaks in the game.
Either way, she needs to realize that it’s a mascot, Jake!
h/t: Reader Jay