Local mascot issue still sparking debate at Cambridge School Board meeting

Special to Evan Lawrence Post Star

CAMBRIDGE — Two members of the Cambridge School Board sparred on Thursday evening in a presentation at last month’s conference by the Executive Director of the Native American Guardians Association, André Velaudeau.

At the board’s August meeting, Velvet introduced himself as a social scientist and claimed to show that students at a school in Virginia were harmed by efforts to remove the school’s Native American mascot. Cited research. No such effort. Villodo said his “mentor” in advocating for Native-themed mascots was renowned social psychologist Phil Zimbardo, professor emeritus at Stanford University.

School board member Neil Gifford said his review of Velvet’s eligibility did not support Velvet’s claims. Veludo contributed only one peer-reviewed published paper in 2004. When contacted, Gifford said he denied Zimbardo was Veludo’s leader and accused him of “deliberately weaponizing psychology” to defend Veludo. Native-themed mascot.

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The Billeaudeaux claim 2% native ancestry, but are not registered members of any recognized tribes. In August, two members of the Navajo accompanied him, saying they liked Native mascots. I got in touch. In its response, the NCAI said it was the only group to officially represent all 573 federally recognized tribes, and that NAGA had no authority to represent Native Americans.

Gifford said he tried to read the study cited by Veludoux, but the link on NAGA’s website was broken and he couldn’t find it elsewhere.

“A false representation of credibility has a negative impact on the decision-making process,” Gifford said.

Dillon Honaist, a school board member who supports keeping Cambridge Indians, said it was “unfair” to criticize Veludoux when he was not present to defend himself. The study cited by Velaudeau was used in two trials to resist attempts to eliminate indigenous mascots, Onyust said.

NAGA members have been collecting oral histories in the area and have come to the board to “share their views,” Honyoust said. “It’s unacceptable to keep people from speaking because what they’re saying doesn’t match your view,” he told Gifford.

Gifford said he defended everyone’s voice but opposed the introduction of questionable information. passed, but no action yet, Gifford said.

“New information still affects us,” Gifford said.

Gifford’s comments on Billeaudeaux’s career were supported by resident Rachel Costello, who spoke during the public comment period. Costello also contacted Zimbardo. “Using mascots that mock a race or ethnic group is unacceptable,” Zimbardo said, noting that there is no research showing that students are harmed by swapping such mascots.

“He completely misunderstands my position,” Zimbardo said.

Billeaudeaux was one of his undergraduates, but Zimbardo denied being his current mentor.

“I literally have no memory of him,” said Zimbardo.

Board chair Shea Price said the board’s legal team submitted a review of the board’s legal options for keeping the mascot earlier in the day. I will send it to the members.

  • Drama Club members Carol Beerke and Adeline Records have asked the Board to wait one year before returning the Drama Club from Hubbard Hall, where they have met for several years. Students said they loved the theater space at Hubbard Hall and appreciated the support they received from Hubbard Hall staff. Early in the conference, the Board approved the extension of Hubbard Hall’s contract for the 2022-2023 academic year.
  • School superintendent Douglas Silvernell said the school’s construction committee is considering upgrading or replacing the school’s auditorium as one of many capital projects on the school’s wish list. In its draft report, the commission said the new auditorium would cost between $9 million and $10 million, all of which would go to district taxpayers. There was also a problem. However, improvements to existing auditoriums are eligible for state aid. Other priorities, Silvernell said, are creating rooms for career technical education, agriculture, and shop classes, redesigning classrooms, and improving facilities for arts programs. Replacing the athletics field with artificial turf was also discussed. Silvernell said the construction commission said in March that he would hold a referendum on an $8 million to $10 million capital project, hoping to keep state construction aid flowing into the district. increase. Since “from 8 million he cannot cover all these with 10 million”, the committee selects the first project to present, and the rest of the projects he has to hold for 5 years to 10 years , he said.
  • The Board created the position of Director of Student Services/Sub-Elementary School Principal for the 2022-23 school year and appointed Darlene King on an interim basis. receive. Silvernell said he didn’t want classroom teachers competing for the position because the new school year had already started and King was available.

Source: poststar.com

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