The Luther Norse: is our mascot outdated?

Rozlyn Paradis, Part-Time Writer

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Norse is defined as a language or the people of northern Scandinavia or Norwegians. The Luther College mascot is at worst a language and at best an entire race.

To increase the authenticity of the college, I am suggesting the adoption of one of the following three strategies.

Option one is to teach all the classes in Norse.

If we are the fighting Norse on the football fields, we should be the fighting Norse in the classroom as well. I propose Paideia to shift to Norse 101 and 102 in which instead of learning how to write and question life in English, first-years learn to write and question life in Norse.

Option two is to preach it like it is.

Why not just say it like it is: home of the white people. From my experience, Luther College favors white and European culture in the vast majority of its courses. The Diversity Center cited 10.9 percent of Luther students in 2016 were minority students. In the same year, only 8.7 and 6.1 percent of faculty and staff, respectively, were of minorities. White culture is also favored in a majority of the mainstream social settings as well.

Option three is to change the mascot.

To what you might ask? My vote would be the gnomes — the Fighting Luther Gnomes! Or the squirrels. They are cute and that could be funny. But what Luther changes the mascot to can be a topic for later debate; this option is simply laying out a possibility.

If you are anything like me, you would see that the first two options are absurd. Luther is already low on enrollment and as a graduating senior, I would prefer that my alma mater continues to exist so I don’t look like a fake when applying for jobs.

But in all seriousness, branding our college with a white race is not inclusive in the least.

The college preaches a diverse and inclusive community in the mission statement, website, and admission pamphlet, but our mascot is a white person.

If the college truly wanted to support students from different backgrounds and encourage learning from those of different backgrounds, they wouldn’t focus so much on the white traditions of the Norse.

Instead, the college should be evolving with the students and the times, especially considering the recent “bias” incidents that have publically plagued our campus and the not-so-recent private, individualized, or simply ignored “bias” incidents. Change is overdue.

The first step is removing the Norse mascot and replacing it with something more inclusive to peoples of all backgrounds including skin colors and nationalities.

I want to be clear that by no means am I equating the need to remove the Norse to the need to remove other mascots such as the North Dakota Fighting Sioux or the Washington Redskins. Mascots like those are culturally appropriated from cultures and ethnicities that have been marginalized for centuries.

When it comes to the Norse, who knows? Maybe at one time they were considered below the Vikings or less superior to the British — I have no idea. But the Norse are of the Norwegian race and the Norwegian race is white and white has been privileged and those marginalizing all of the black and brown bodies since the beginning of history.

Therefore the Norse mascot does not need to be removed in respect for the conquerors or their culture. However, it does need to be removed for the inclusivity of this institution and to avoid complete hypocrisy of what the college preaches.

And I won’t even get started on the fact that our mascot also embodies a man which, as I am sure all of my feminist friends have already noted, sustains the patriarchy, de-legitimizes the strength of women, and perpetuates masculine stereotypes. That’s a different conversation but one that the Luther Squirrels, again, would avoid.

But this is a call for action to you at Luther College: teach all classes in Norse, preach it like it is, or change the mascot. Your choice. But if you want to live up to inclusivity and diversity that is claimed to be at this campus, let’s at least start with changing our mascot.


Rozlyn Paradis (‘18)

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