Culture

U of Iowa Professor Worried That the School’s Hawk Mascot Is Too Scary for Students to Handle

Hawkeye fans snap a picture with Herky at Kinnick Stadium (via uiowa.edu)
Resmiye Oral is concerned that the mascot may be leading to violence, depression, and a culture of suicide.

A professor at the University of Iowa is concerned that the school’s hawk mascot, Herky, looks angry — and its appearance could be contributing to a culture of violence, depression, and even “suicide.”

“I believe incoming students should be met with welcoming, nurturing, calm, accepting and happy messages,” clinical professor of pediatrics Resmiye Oral, wrote in an e-mail to the school’s athletic department, according to an article in Iowa City Press Citizen.

Oral continues to say that although she believes the school is “doing a great job in that regard when it comes to words,” she’s afraid that all of that is just not going to be enough if the school’s mascot has an angry face

It may sound like a joke to you, but Oral believes that the issue of the mascot’s appearance is not something to be taken lightly — not only because it could it be making some students feel uncomfortable, but also because it might be “conveying an invitation to aggressivity and even violence.”

Yes, that’s right — although you may think that the mascot bird’s face is just a mascot bird’s face, Oral is here to tell you that it may actually be a vehicle for subliminally instilling violent tendencies into the minds of those who see it.

According to the City Press Citizen, Oral developed her concern after noticing that Herky was depicted with an angry facial expression on all of the school’s promotional posters and flyers.

Her solution? Give that bird’s face a range of emotions!

“As we strive to tackle depression, suicide, violence, and behavioral challenges and help our students succeed, I plead with you to allow Herky to be like one of us, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, sometimes angry, sometimes concentrated,” she wrote.

(It’s not clear whether Oral actually spoke to any students who said that seeing the flyers triggered in them some kind of bird-face-induced trauma that made them want quit school, beat people up, and/or kill themselves.)

#related#According to City Press Citizen, an athletic department spokesperson, Steve Roe, said that department officials “are aware of this request and are in the process of formulating a response in regard to the Herky images” — but that UI Faculty Senate President Thomas Vaughn said that “at this time, the committee is not focused specifically on how herky is depicted.”

Ugh. How disappointing. After all, what in the world could possibly be more important?

The controversy was previously reported on in an article on Heat Street.

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