Editorial: UConn logo change symbolizes positive shift in athletics

HuskyAutoComicThe University of Connecticut Huskies recently unveiled a new logo for its athletic department. The old logo featured a husky and so does the new one. However, what seems like a routine change has caused controversy. One student is offended because the changing of the logo represents not a shift toward a more positive athletic program, but superficial change.

The letter expressing this point was written by Carolyn Luby, a women’s gender and sexuality studies major and feminist, in a letter to UConn president Susan Herbst detailing how the new logo offends her as a measure designed to gloss over recent bad behavior by student athletes, including instances of violence against women.

UConn women’s head basketball coach Geno Auriemma, on the other hand, said the new husky is “looking right through you and saying, ‘Do not mess with me.’ This is a streamlined, fighting dog, and I cannot wait for it to be on our uniforms and court.”

According to UConn’s website, different athletic teams were straying away from one central design, and this new logo is intended to re-unify the themes and launch the program into a new era.

Echoing Auriemma, Luby quotes in her letter that the new logo is intended to be “powerful and aggressive” and “show what UConn and [its] student athletes convey every day: poise, confidence, competitiveness, and the determination to succeed in the classroom and on the field and the court.”

Luby then points out recent problems the UConn athletic department had.

She cites the men’s basketball team becoming the first BCS school to be penalized for having a low academic progress rate; running back Lyle McCombs’ arrest following a dispute with his girlfriend, who was also arrested; basketball player Enosch Wolf’s suspension following a domestic dispute and his arrest and basketball player Tyler Olander’s trespassing in a structure or conveyance charge.

She then argues that the university, in light of these charges, should not encourage an aggressive and powerful message through the mascot, because the program is in enough trouble.

A minor flaw in Luby’s argument is she seems to imply keeping or discarding the old logo has something to do with individual character. Having a less aggressive logo would not prevent any domestic disputes from happening in the future. The two are unrelated.

However, we do agree that changing the logo without pursuing punitive action for the student athletes responsible for the crimes is a superficial action that won’t fix any of the athletic department’s real problems.

She goes on to write, “What terrifies me about the admiration of such traits is that I know what it feels like to have a real-life Husky look straight through you and to feel powerless, and to wonder if even the administration cannot ‘mess with them.’ And I know I am not alone.”

This section seems to imply an encounter between Luby and a student athlete behaving badly, and her worries that the administration of her school would do nothing about it if something bad happened to her. This fear seems justified, as only one of the athletes was suspended for the bad actions mentioned before.

We do agree with the university’s decision to change the logo, however. Trying to re-energize the program by giving it a new face seems like an admirable goal. But punitive action for the responsible parties is a necessary step in this process. Both actions are crucial.

No student wants to support an athletic program full of reprobates. Changing the logo is a way for UConn to symbolically put its athletic department’s issues in the past and allow students and university personnel to move forward. The new Husky is a very basic way of creating a new image for the university. If you ask us, it sounds like the whole department needs a makeover.

Without doubt, UConn should address the problems and punish its errant student athletes, but the logo change should still move forward.

Changing the old mascot into something that “will not appear to be mean, snarling, or capable of frightening small children” seems like an appropriate action given the circumstances. If anything, the new athletes have a better standard to live up to. We support the change and condemn the university’s lack of punitive action. The two are not mutually exclusive.