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Political correctness silences ‘The Pow Wow’

Political correctness has claimed another victim – this one nearand dear to my journalistic heart.

Hitting the newstands today at my alma mater is the new editionof the campus newspaper under its new name. The University ofLouisiana at Monroe newspaper’s “The Pow Wow” moniker has beensilenced in favor of “The Hawkeye.”

After succumbing to pressure from the NCAA last year to changeULM’s mascot from Indians to something else, in this case theWarhawks, the powers that be decided it was now time to change thename of the school’s newspaper.

“The Hawkeye,” “The Louisianian,” and “The Telegram” were thenew name options put forth for online voting that ended Tuesday.”The Hawkeye” garnered 89 percent of the vote.

I’ve grumbled before about changes at my school. The newspapername change, though, hits a little closer to home and is one I haveparticular disdain for since it’s a result of unnecessary politicalcorrectness.

First, the name of my school changed from Northeast LouisianaUniversity to the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 1999. Thiswasn’t political correctness, but I have no doubt politics wereinvolved in some way.

Next came the Big Brother NCAA and its determination that theIndians nickname was “hostile or abusive.” ULM was one of 18schools with American Indian nicknames that fell into the “hostileor abusive” category.

Conceivably, ULM could have kept the Indians mascot.

But the new NCAA policy is that ULM then could not host any NCAAevents and could not use the logo at any NCAA events in which ULMwas participating. In other words, no sports tournament money wouldbe coming to Monroe and it would be the ULM No-Names when its teamsplayed in tournaments elsewhere.

Doesn’t the NCAA have anything better to do than worry aboutwhat their member schools call themselves?

How about making sure schools put a little more emphasis onstudents becoming scholars as well as athletes? There’s always roomfor improvement in the graduation rates of student-athletes – atsome schools more than others.

Or how about finding a way to determine a true national championin college football? What about a playoff system like there is incollege basketball?

The side effect of the NCAA policy and ULM’s subsequent mascotchange is that Indians-oriented elements around campus have to beremoved or changed.

An Indian head tile mosaic on the side of the Student UnionBuilding had to be taken down. Now the name of the newspaper whereI took my first journalistic steps is changing.

When I was editor back in 1989-90, “The Pow Wow” didn’t lead anycampus crusades to change anything the news staff disagreed withand I don’t know if the president even knew who I was. Had I beeneditor recently, though, there would be editorials against idioticpolitical correctness and I dare say the administration and thenewspaper would have had a “pow wow” over our opposition to anyname changes.

My ill feelings over what brought it about aside, I don’t reallyhave a problem with my college newspaper’s new name. In ajournalistic sense, being the “eye” for the “hawks” is what anewspaper is supposed to be about.

Also, I can’t really argue with the illogic of having anewspaper with an Indian name at a school that now has a bird for amascot. And I have noticed a few muffled snickers when I tellpeople I was editor of “The Pow Wow.”

For almost 75 years, though, the newspaper’s name was “The PowWow” and I was proud to be a part of it, if only for a little overa year. I’ll look forward to reading “The Hawkeye,” but I’ll alwaysremember “The Pow Wow.”

Write to Matthew Coleman at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS39602, or send e-mail to mcoleman@dailyleader.com.