Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Our university mascot is problematic

Photo by Point Park University
The University’s logo including the mascot of The Pioneers.

As the Point Park Pioneers, we have a right to say that our mascot as a “Pioneer” is problematic. Although the role of a pioneer is to typically lead and invest in opportunity, it still has historical background that we as a predominantly white institution (PWI) need to investigate. 


In the recent past, there have been several colleges and universities which have had to reevaluate their college mascot. The University of Denver, Grinnell College and California State University are a few institutions who have experienced backlash and released public apologies due to controversial mascots. 


The Pioneer mascot ignores the violent history of genocide perpetrated against indigenous peoples within the United States. Canada’s history of mass violence against native populations has also been resurfacing. According to CBS, there were 200 unmarked graves found at one residential school alone, found on Muskowekwan land in Saskatchewan. 


“Manifest Destiny” originated in the past, but its harmful effects remain to this day. Yes, people should be educated on the events which occurred, but this means all of the events. Indigenous culture is oftentimes erased, historically incorrect or taught by predominantly white people. As a generation who grew up making arts and crafts headdresses for Thanksgiving, we need to be transparent with ourselves and unlearn colonialism. 


Indigenous populations need their voices to be heard. The weight the image the Pioneer alone carries is one of abuse, assault and murder, not one of spearheading open opportunities. According to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Pittsburgh is located on Seneca, Monongahela and Shawnee land. 


If the university, as a collective, takes the steps to learn about our history, then we can move forward with more conscious and knowledgeable language. We have the opportunity to step down from supporting a student mascot which cannot, and does not, represent everyone. 


Black Diamond the II, Point Park’s mascot, is a bison. It was named after the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity partnered with the Varsity Club in 1967 to acquire a live bison, named after Black Diamond I. Black Diamond I was used as the model for the US Buffalo Nickel in 1913. I also agree with a The Globe article from 2018 that we should not bring back a live bison to sports or student events. Trips to the South Park Bison Reserve might be intriguing but could be an unethical practice, compared to institutions like zoos. 


The name Black Diamond presumably comes from the coal mine history in Pennsylvania, according to the Historical Marker Database. The term could also have a racial history, because of the historical context and time Black Diamond I was acquired and named. 


Point Park University alumni, faculty, staff and students can be more proactive in dismantling the notion of what being a “pioneer” truly is when viewed from a modern lens. We need to take future action in order to responsibly identify student pride with a new mascot which equitably represents all campus community members.

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