Michael Beirne, beirnemf@muohio.edu

There are apparently some people on this campus and others off of it who wish to remain anonymous on message boards who do not understand the definition of tradition.

The dictionary defines it as “the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, et cetera from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice; a story that has come down to us by popular tradition.”

The former mascot and nickname for Miami University was the Redskins, a name previously endorsed whole-heartedly by the students, the alumni and the Miami Tribe (now of Oklahoma) as something that was a proud legacy of athletic excellence and academic achievement.  

Enter 1996, when at the request of the Miami Tribe (whom the Redskin nickname honors…) Miami (not the athletic department) voted to change the nickname of the university to the RedHawks, something less offensive and demeaning to a proud nation.

This was not the first time the university has switched nicknames, there are many that were used prior to the adoption of the Redskin nickname. (But few people, including alumni, are aware of that. Talk about knowing your traditions, right?) So, what were those nicknames you ask?

They include Miami Boys, the Big Reds and the Reds and Whites. None have stuck around or been recognized by the university in some time.  

Now, by the dictionary definition, handing down of customs, information and statements would cause me to ask, how are we erasing our Redskin tradition when it is the only prior mascot and nickname that is still emblazoned on Miami athletic fields? I don’t see a Miami Big Red logo anywhere on campus.

The Redskin tradition is one still very much alive. There is still plenty of merchandise available for alumni and those who are a part of the Redskin tradition, even for those that have no clue what it was like to come to school as a Redskin and dare to critique those who did participate in Redskin athletics and showed and do show their Redskin pride in a respectable way.

Great fans come to hockey games geared up in Redskin apparel because they are representing the logo they came to know as a student, and are doing so in a respectful manner toward the tribe.  

The Miami Tribe sought to have the nickname removed and no longer used.

Whether you agree with the political correctness of the name or not, how can you seek to invoke “love an honor” to a group that has maintained there is no love and honor in what you are saying and trying to represent?

I ask you that knowing that many will claim there is a duty to the alumni and fans of the old nickname to keep the tradition, to which I reply, we have. That is why the logo is still present on Miami merchandise, present on stadiums that were built and held Redskin athletic events and still acknowledged on the athletic department website under traditions. 

The incident in question is an unfortunate one — that someone would be asked to remove a symbol of their fandom, especially in a time when there are so few diehard fans that attend Miami athletic events. However, it is also unfortunate to see the ignorance and one-sidedness of the discussion that the person who was supposedly removed (although I watched him leave out of protest, never once being asked anything other than to remove the headdress by a true Redskin who graduated as a Redskin not once, but twice, compared to a non-alumni senior supposedly representing alumni).

While I support their voice, I respectfully disagree with their argument or lack thereof and where it is directed.

Why attack the people in charge of enforcing rules and not look at those creating the rules, the administration, and the board of trustees who not too many years ago determined to answer the tribe’s calling to remove the nickname. Why not ask your friendly Miami tribesperson, oh wait, you can’t, we shipped them off to Oklahoma. (Guess we shouldn’t let that tradition die either.)

But seriously, why not ask your board of trustees why the headdress is offensive? After all, they are the ones making the policy.  

Using the usher or the athletic department as a scapegoat and saying they are not educated is absurd, considering every usher and event staff worker is educated as to why such ornaments are offensive.

However, I don’t know that the “victim” or his friends were in any state of being able to argue this tradition since they themselves are not aware of it.

To the argument of people dressing up as Native Americans for Halloween, well that is not aimed at representing a group of people against their will.  

I am a proud alumnus of Miami University, and will be twice over as soon as I graduate with my master’s degree. I came to this school because of its reputation as a great academic place, the natural beauty and the up and coming ice hockey team. I came to support the RedHawks, not the Redskins, just like the student in question from the football game.

I believe in knowing where you came from so that you are prepared to move forward. I am against removing the Redskin tradition, but I am also against double-crossing a people who have been double-crossed many times prior to this. (Enter being removed to Oklahoma.)

I believe in true love and honor to Miami, which means showing respect and praise to the RedHawk tradition as well.

If you would like to question that, please do, I would love to talk to you.  

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