Culture Beat / August 29, 2016

The Angry Bird Iowa Professor

She believes the school’s mascot has a negative influence on students.

Last week, the president of the University of Chicago informed incoming students regarding of the expectations they can have regarding the university’s stance on freedom of speech. The president reminded students that the university was a place where differing opinions and views were welcomed. That there were no “trigger warnings” or “safe places” where students could expect to be free from ideas or views with which they may disagree or that offended them. The president of the University of Chicago was rightly praised for standing up for freedom of speech.

Now in contrast comes this story, also out of the country’s heartland. According to University of Iowa Pediatrics Professor Resmiye Oral, the Hawkeyes’ mascot Herky promotes anger and violence by the look on his face. “I believe incoming students should be met with welcoming, nurturing, calm, accepting and happy messages,” she wrote to the athletic department, requesting that the mascot have a different expression. “Herky’s angry, to say the least, faces conveying an invitation to aggressively and even violence are not compatible with the verbal messages that we try to convey to and instill in our students and campus community. … As we strive to tackle depression, suicide, violence, and behavioral challenges and help our students succeed, I plead with you to allow Herky to be like one of us, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, sometimes angry, sometimes concentrated.”

Evidently, this professor sees the university as some giant daycare designated to protect the sensitive minds of college toddlers. To date no student has complained about being mentally oppressed by Herky, but we in our humble shop know of one toddling professor…

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