University President David Adamany responded to an article in The Temple News last week regarding a group that has asked NCAA member institutions to boycott playing against schools whose athletic mascots portray negative images of Native Americans.
Adamany stated in an Oct. 18 e-mail that he received a letter from the group, headed by Stephen Kaufman of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and expressed support for the cause but questioned boycotting as an effective method of action.
“It is my personal belief that if the use of American Indian references is offensive to the Native American community, they should not be used,” Adamany wrote.
However, “I am skeptical of how boycotts would work in higher education,” he added. “We’d soon have demands for boycotts from all kinds of groups that are pursuing causes.
“Would we boycott the science programs of religious colleges that teach intelligent design as well as creationism by refusing to admit their students to Temple graduate and health science programs? Would we engage in academic boycotts against students and faculty members at universities, including Penn, that resist unionization of graduate assistants simply because we have agreed to that practice?”
Reiterating that he personally finds Native American references in college mascots offensive, Adamany stressed practicality.
“There are a great many worthy causes in the world,” he wrote, “but I am skeptical whether it is a sound educational policy (and we are an educational institution first and foremost) or whether we make progress toward advancing those causes by beginning a process of boycotting other institutions with whose policies we disagree.”
John Kopp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.