RUTLAND, Vt. (WFFF) — The ongoing debate over Rutland’s mascot has taken another turn. After moving from the Raiders to the “Rutland Ravens,” the school is now back to donning the “Raiders” name. Board members voted 6 to 5 on Tuesday night to return to the old mascot.
It was retired last year after the combination of the “Raiders” name and the arrowhead logo were deemed offensive to indigenous people. Mia Schultz, President of the NAACP Rutland said, “I will go as bold as to say they prioritized their racism over the safety of kids during a pandemic, over policy, and things like that.”
Andy Cassarino, a 2014 Rutland graduate spent a lot of time researching the origin of the Raiders name in old yearbooks and newspaper articles, and says his finding have negative impacts on native students. “I was pretty upset when I got the news the other night that they were moving back, especially after a solid case was made with facts and evidence as to why it should be changed.”
Cassarino hopes those opposed to the change will focus more on “community” rather than maintaining a name. “The pride is really in the school and the people. What made the school for me wasn’t that I was a raider but the people I was around. At the end of the day you can have any mascot in the world, but its the community that’s going to make that place.”
Schultz points to cities, school districts, and athletic teams who have made similar changes, specifically the Washington Bullets, a basketball team who switched to the Wizards after noting the city’s gun violence. “(I) have been able to understand and reckon with the fact that its time for change,” he said. “I’m not quite sure why Rutland is still on the fence with that, because we see across the country that it is happening.”
Schultz hopes this could be a catalyst for state legislation to protect school inclusion statements and highlight the importance of local elections.