Brattleboro students vote to keep controversial mascot

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(Host) Students at Brattleboro Union High School have voted overwhelmingly to keep their controversial mascot. The Brattleboro Colonel – a cartoon figure of a Confederate colonel – has been criticized as a symbol of slavery and racial oppression. After weeks of forums and discussions, a little over half the student body participated in a non- binding poll.

The choices were to retire the mascot, keep it as it is, or retain the name but change the image to something less likely to offend. Sixty-two percent of those who voted said they wanted to keep the image. They also chose to keep the high school slogan, ‘Pride of the South.’ Supporters say the motto refers to ‘southern Vermont’ rather than the Confederacy.

Only half as many students voted to update the Colonel’s image. But student council president Seth Proctor says that shows that the discussions did have an effect.

(Proctor) “I think a lot of people’s opinions did change, because they wouldn’t have found it offensive in any way before. And having 30 percent of the school vote – 177 people – that they wanted to change the image, is a significant portion.”

(Host) A majority of teachers voted in a separate poll to keep the Colonel name but find a new image. Results of the polls will go to the school board, which will make the final decision on the mascot. The board has scheduled a public hearing on the issue for early January.

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