It would be difficult to walk around campus these days and not see some form of construction. As inconvenient as it is having to find classes displaced from familiar buildings, the improvements for a nicer campus are quite welcome.
With these projects and the support of good advertising, Eastern seems to be going in the right direction. For those of us happy to be attending EMU, it’s exciting to see an effort made to represent the school positively.
Without being too bold, now would be an appropriate time to continue renovating EMU’s image by getting a different mascot. I don’t wish to comment on whether it ever should have been changed from the Hurons. My insight into Native American culture and dignity is far less developed than my annoyance at the lack of effort in finding a suitable substitute.
According to my count, based on a list compiled by Adam Joshua Smargon, there are no fewer than 59 different colleges using the eagle as a nickname, and this doesn’t include variations like the 15 schools named the Golden Eagles. Bluntly, donning the eagle is so generic and bland that EMU might as well have for its motto “Because you’d rather be a Spartan.”
As a student, it’s not a terribly inspiring message. I have difficulty imagining the creative vacuum that led to an institution of higher learning deciding it has exhausted all potential names and settling on the Eagles.
But the point of this column is not to create a psychological portrait of mediocrity. It’s simply to propose to school officials that the students of EMU be given an opportunity to take ownership of their own school’s nickname. It is entirely possible I am in the minority and most students like the current mascot. If that’s the case, a vote will affirm it and reinforce enthusiasm for the established one.
If, however, popular opinion rejects the eagle and in its place selects something more unique to the area or school’s specific attributes, then democracy has fairly run its course and, in my estimation, to a beneficial end.
I don’t mean to give the impression that change is as easy as organizing a vote. I am certain any name change would be costly and require significant work. But the path of least resistance is not a model to build a school on. By contrast, the additional effort would go a long way toward creating a university identity.
With so many commuters from a variety of locations, it’s easy to see EMU as just a place to take classes and get credit. Giving students the opportunity to select a name representing the whole student body would offer a unifying cause and a coherent reflection of its diversity.