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Is the Viking next to go? WWU eyes ditching Viking mascot due to colonialism

‘Names idolizing conquest [are] out of line with the university’s contemporary values around honoring local Indigenous communities’

Western Washington University may scrap its Viking mascot and is currently conducting an investigation to help make a final decision on the issue.

The effort was spawned in part from requests asking the public university to remove the names of four buildings on campus due to racism concerns: Huxley College of the Environment, Mathes Hall, Haggard Hall, and the Viking Union.

In December, trustees announced that T.H. Huxley’s name would be removed, citing the scientist’s “white supremacist values that dehumanize and harm many members of the Western community.” The Haggard and Mathes names were spared.

But the verdict is out on the Vikings. A “strong majority” of the university’s Legacy Review Taskforce recommended to trustees to remove “Viking” from the Viking Union.

“The Task Force was concerned about the harm caused by asking all members of the Western community to identify with a figure that is potentially exclusive on the basis of both ethnicity and gender,” the taskforce stated in its report.

“Furthermore, the Task Force found names idolizing conquest as out of line with the university’s contemporary values around honoring local Indigenous communities. Task Force members who did not recommend renaming in this report proposed the building name be evaluated alongside the mascot by a separate committee.”

Trustees directed the university “to conduct a more thorough assessment of the Viking name in the broader context of the University mascot,” the December news release states.

The media and communications team at Western Washington University did not respond to requests from The College Fix seeking comment.

The university’s athletics website includes background on its “Victor E. Viking” mascot:

“Nearly a century ago a young Victor E. Viking sailed away from his homeland in Scandinavia on an epic journey around the globe. One day he came upon Bellingham Bay and decided to dock his ship and explore the area. He entered the town of Bellingham and then made his way up Sehome Hill where he found himself on the campus of Bellingham State Normal School (now Western Washington University). He loved the area and the university so much that he decided he would make it his home and become Western’s No. 1 fan! Ever since that day in 1923, Victor E. Viking has become not only the No.1 supporter of Western Athletics, but also its mascot! It has been said that when Victor first came to Western he was so good at all sports that every coach wanted him on their team. Since he couldn’t make up his mind on which team to be a part of he decided to root for them all as Western’s mascot. Nowadays you can find Victor cheering on all of Western’s amazing athletic teams from basketball to softball, showing off his Western pride.”

This is not the first time that a mascot change at WWU has been raised. In 2015, an effort to get it scrapped claimed the Viking mascot is “hyper-masculine” and “aggressive.”

However, the area is steeped in Scandinavian roots. In 1910, 30 percent of the foreign-born population had Scandinavian blood. The National Nordic Museum is also located in Seattle, Washington.

Despite the heritage, the Viking as a mascot, in general, may still be on its way out.

During the current Washington Football Team name scandal, many people looked for other teams that may change their alleged problematic names. The Minnesota Vikings is a major team considered.

A change.org petition argued the NFL mascot is “highly distasteful.” It argued the Vikings thought “they were entitled to anything they want and not living in harmony with groups of people with differing ideologies.”

MORE: Check out The College Fix’s Campus Cancel Culture Database

IMAGE: WWU website

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About the Author
Corey Kendig -- Grove City College