BELMONT — The Shaker Regional School District school board voted down a student council motion Tuesday night to remove the image of an American Indian from Belmont High School’s mascot and logos.
The voice vote had only one member, Robert Reed, voting in favor of making the image change. The rest of the board said “no,” with at least one abstention.
As the board was denying the request of student council co-chairs Taylor Becker and Andrew Bragg, the board members against the change said they voted it down in part because they did not feel it was their place to make the decision.
It was recommended by several board members that a warrant article be drafted to present the issue to voters at the district’s annual meeting in March.
“It’s more of a community decision,” board member Donna Cilley said. “I don’t want to make this decision (as a school board); it is a community decision.”
After more discussion, the board decided to take no further action on the proposal. Members said the warrant article may have to be written and sponsored by an individual rather than a governing body.
The issue was brought up at an April 14 student council meeting. Council members said many of the school’s students wanted a change in the mascot, as many do not like the image of a stereotypical American Indian warrior on their uniforms and flags. Some students asked to remove the “Red” from “Red Raiders” as well.
But Becker and Bragg did some polling and determined that people were against changing the entire name and mascot image. A poll of students taken Tuesday showed 191 against any change and 73 for a change. A poll of faculty showed 37 in favor of a change, with 11 against.
In making their presentation Tuesday, the two student leaders dropped the request to take the “Red” from “Red Raiders” and focused on changing the image. They played two videos for the board showing American Indians saying, “I am not a mascot.”
“I think we need to be aware of how we are perceived elsewhere,” Bragg said.
Tuesday night’s meeting in Belmont was mentioned in a Wall Street Journal report Tuesday about Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who last week joined 49 of her colleagues in signing a letter denouncing the Washington Redskins team name as “a racial slur.”
Shaheen criticized the NFL team for keeping the name, but said a decision on local schools should be left to local government.
The New Hampshire Republican Party issued a statement on the matter Tuesday.
“No matter what your position is on this issue, everybody can agree that Jeanne Shaheen is trying to say one thing to her liberal friends in Washington and another thing to New Hampshire,” said Jennifer Horn, the state party chairman.