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Boston University may retire mascot name ‘Rhett’ due to ‘Gone with the Wind’ connection

American universities must be in a competition to see which can out-stupid the other.

Yesterday news broke that a college was considering changing its wasp mascot — the insect, mind you — because some think it relates to the acronym WASP for “White Anglo Saxon Protestant.”

Boston University now is making a similar move.

According to The Boston Globe, BU president Robert Brown announced in an email Wednesday that the school is looking into “retiring” the name of mascot “Rhett” because “community members” are concerned about connections to the classic novel/film Gone with the Wind.

Brown noted that the mascot (a Boston Terrier, by the way) was chosen by students in 1922 and “sometime later” was nicknamed “Rhett” for Rhett Butler, the male lead in GWTW.

Brown conceded the name may have been a “playful pun” on the school’s color of scarlet, but added “it was a short leap for students — or perhaps a sports publicist — to link Rhett to Scarlett O’Hara.”

“Despite this seemingly cute connection between the movie and our mascot’s name, the fact is that the movie’s portrayal of the American Civil War, postwar reconstruction, and slavery is offensive,” Brown added. “And it is reasonable for people to question why, at a university founded by abolitionists, we have a mascot nicknamed for a character in a film whose racist depictions are completely at odds with our own tradition.”

From the story:

At Boston University, Brown said, community members have expressed concerns that the name “Rhett” is “associated with the Confederacy, slavery, and sexual assault.”

He added that “the movie’s portrayal of the American Civil War, postwar reconstruction, and slavery is offensive.

“And it is reasonable for people to question why, at a university founded by abolitionists, we have a mascot nicknamed for a character in a film whose racist depictions are completely at odds with our own tradition.” …

The dean of BU’s College of Fine Arts, Harvey Young, and the university’s vice president for alumni relations, Steve Hall, will lead a committee of undergraduates, graduate students, alumni, faculty, and athletic staff to consider retiring the nickname, Brown said.

“It is important to note that our committee is not a renaming committee,” Young said in an e-mail. “We’re not soliciting new nicknames for our beloved Boston Terrier mascot. We are focused on the nickname Rhett and the question of whether it is compatible with BU’s commitments to diversity, equity and antiracism.”

Also important to note: A whole committee is actually needed to deal with this matter.

Some students and alumni in the Globe piece either didn’t know of Rhett’s connection to the film, or thought the issue isn’t that important.

“To be honest, I’m not particularly passionate about this issue because I feel there are larger issues that could be worked on first,” said one student.

Read the article.

MORE: College to look if wasp mascot is related to systemic oppression

MORE: Cal. State-Long Beach ditches ‘Prospector Pete’ mascot because ‘racism’

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 15 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.

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