Boston University is considering changing the name of its mascot over an apparent link to “the Confederacy, slavery and sexual assault,” school pre
Boston University is considering changing the name of its mascot over an apparent link to “the Confederacy, slavery and sexual assault,” school president Robert A. Brown wrote in a letter to the school’s community Wednesday.
Boston University athletics is known as the Terriers. The mascot is named Rhett, which is a reference to the novel “Gone with the Wind,” which has also come under fire in recent months, Brown wrote.
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“As part of our ongoing conversations about racism and the way it manifests itself in society and on campus, a number of you have pointed out that our mascot’s nickname, ‘Rhett,’ pays tribute to a fictional character associated with the Confederacy, slavery, and sexual assault, and that has prompted important conversations,” he wrote.
“We know that the University mascot was chosen in 1922 by student vote, with the majority favoring the Boston Terrier (over the bull moose). It is less easy to pinpoint when the nickname ‘Rhett’ came into common use,” the letter continued. “What is clear is that ‘Rhett’ is a reference to one of the lead characters in Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone with the Wind, which was made into the Hollywood film with Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.”
It continues: “In the Boston University context, the ‘Rhett’ nickname is, of itself, a play on words. Since our school color is scarlet, it was a short leap for students—or perhaps a sports publicist—to link Rhett to Scarlett O’Hara, the other romantic lead in the book and movie.”
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Brown wrote that because of “Gone with the Wind’s” portrayal of post-Civil War reconstruction, it was time to address whether it’s time for a change.
“Despite this seemingly cute connection between the movie and our mascot’s name, the fact is that the movie’s portrayal of the American Civil War, postwar reconstruction, and slavery is offensive,” he wrote. “And it is reasonable for people to question why, at a university founded by abolitionists, we have a mascot nicknamed for a character in a film whose racist depictions are completely at odds with our own tradition. It is time to address this question.”
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Brown wrote he asked school officials to consider whether to change the name, Rhett.