Mission Viejo – Following recommendations from the Associated Student Government, Academic Senate, and Consultation Council, a petition signed by hundreds of students and employees, and multiple campus and community forums, the College President, Dr. Elliot Stern, announced that the college is retiring its mascot, the Gaucho. The process to identify a new mascot is underway.
The decision to retire the mascot received overwhelming support from students, faculty, and staff. While many reasons were cited, the main points to identify a new mascot include:
1. The Gaucho is a cultural appropriation that dishonored a symbol of South American culture by using it as a mascot – a good luck charm for athletics.
2. The design used to depict the Gaucho was of an angry, racist caricature that relied on stereotypes and tropes. Saddleback College is a federally recognized Hispanic-Serving Institution, and approximately 30 percent of students and employees are Latinx.
3. The Gaucho is representative of an all-male culture and does not provide equal representation of female athletes and women in general. Women make up approximately 60 percent of the Saddleback College student population.
Dr. Elliot Stern, President of Saddleback College, stated, “The controversy surrounding the mascot goes back many years. The hundreds of students and employees who signed the petition and spoke in our forums last year were not the first to decry the Gaucho as a symbol that caused embarrassment and pain, and share concern that it is not representative of a campus that prides itself on being inclusive and welcoming to all.”
The college has started the process to identify a new mascot. A steering committee made up of students, faculty, and staff will solicit ideas, organize focus groups, and hold a vote by survey to select the college’s new mascot.
Ideas for the new Saddleback College mascot are now being accepted through March 2 and can be submitted at www.saddleback.edu/mascot. Students, employees, alumni, and community members are invited to submit ideas.
Criteria have been developed in the selection of the new mascot. Saddleback College’s mascot should:
- Be unifying for the Saddleback College campus and community;
- Present a positive image or ideal that will build enthusiasm and campus/team spirit;
- Be broadly relevant across the Saddleback community, the student body, and generations of alumni;
- Be representative of the Saddleback experience, history, or geography, either generally or specifically;
- Work equally well for women’s and men’s sports teams; and
- Be represented in a visually pleasing way that connects to Saddleback College’s values
After submissions are collected, the steering committee will select semi-finalists based on the criteria, and focus groups will be held in March to narrow the selection for a final vote in May, with a final design to be selected in the fall semester.
Updates and information will be provided throughout the selection process at www.saddleback.edu/mascot.