116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Six months after agreeing to drop the Marion Indians team name and mascot, the Marion Independent school board voted Monday night to reject the name meant to be its replacement, finding that, too, was offensive.
The board voted 5-2 to reject the name Mavericks, with members Carl Lantermans and Jon Fitch voting no. The board had approved the name in February, but the district soon announced it was reconsidering.
The name initially was selected because of its definition as an independent thinker, derived from Samuel Maverick, who refused to brand his cattle. But then the district learned the early 1800s Texas rancher was also a slave owner.
School board member Diana Zrudsky apologized Monday for considering moving forward with that mascot.
“I let too many concerns interfere with the inappropriate decision of moving forward with the mascot,” Zrudsky said. “We’ve been informed about the negative racist impact this term has had on people.”
Zrudsky pointed out that the school board is made up entirely of white members.
“How many people of color do we see represented here around our board table?” Zrudsky asked. “We can do our best to be inclusive and work to understand our own biases and make decisions accordingly.
“We owe it to our students to get this right, to let them know we’ve made a mistake, and we’re not going to ignore it and move forward,” she continued. “We own up to it and find a mascot we can celebrate with pride.”
School board member Denise Allison said she recently learned the surrounding community has a “perception of racism” in the Marion district. “If we vote to keep the Mavericks, how will be we perceived by the community?” she said. “We are adding fuel to the fire. We don’t know what it’s like to be a different race or color. We have all been afforded privileges because of the color of our skin.”
Lantermans said a vote by the student body showed that the majority of students were in favor of keeping the Mavericks mascot.
“I think their vote matters,” he said. “What message does that send to them if we vote against what they ultimately chose as their mascot?”
Many community members spoke in favor of not moving forward with the name.
“When we do something like select a mascot, we are saying this is who we are and what we value and honor,” speaker Circe Stumbo said. “You’ve caught this soon enough in the process. You took important and difficult steps to do that when you decided to retire the Indian mascot.”
Mia Ultsinger, a sophomore at Marion High School, said the district should not use the Mavericks name.
“I believe we have a choice to do the right thing … This is an easy decision,” she said.
The school board agreed to start the process from scratch instead of turning to the other top finalists: Storm and Wolves. The board also voted continue working with VIP Branding, which the district is not paying, to help it determine a new mascot.
School board member Shari Funck said VIP Branding has been “extremely apologetic” over the position the board is in. “They are committed to working with us and helping us find a new mascot,” Funck said.
Mike Manderscheid, representative for the team name and mascot committee, said the committee is “diversifying the group a little more.” The mascot committee is meeting Wednesday to discuss next steps, which will be proposed to the school board April 26.
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