Saddleback College sacks its mascot after ‘cultural appropriation,' 'sexism’ criticism

Saddleback College retired its mascot, claiming it perpetuates cultural appropriation, racism, and sexism.

The group that spearheaded the initiative suggested the mascot could cause “psychological harm.”

Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California announced its decision to remove and replace its current mascot, the Gaucho. 

The Gaucho, a South American Cowboy, was replaced after the college said it is "cultural appropriation,” “racist” and non-inclusive of female athletes and “women in general.” 

The removal came on the heels of a recommendation by multiple student organizations, petitions, and community forums. In an announcement posted on the school’s website, Saddleback College President Elliot Stern stated that “the hundreds of students and employees who signed the petition and spoke in our forums last year were not the first to decry the Gaucho as a symbol that caused embarrassment and pain.” 

[RELATED: BU considers renaming ‘racist’ mascot due to ‘ Gone With the Wind’ connection]

The group, Retire The Gaucho, pressured the administration by circulating a petition, which garnered hundreds of signatures. The group’s now-deleted website cited multiple reasons for the removal of the mascot, including that the Gaucho “reinforces the idea that males are the normative gender, and that other genders are inherently inferior” since it uses the Spanish masculine word form, and the potential “psychological harm caused by using ethnic minorities as mascots.” 

When asked about the comments posted on the website, a spokesperson for the group, Jennie McCue, told Campus Reform that “appropriating a symbol of South American culture and depicting it as an angry, vaguely Mexican-looking cowboy and plastering it on uniforms and walls as a good-luck charm for competitive athletics embarrassed and caused pain for the nearly third of [sic] our employees and students who identify as Latinx. We do not mock our employees and students and we do not reinforce stereotypes that are anathema to inclusivity.”

[RELATED: Mascot Madness: School spirit symbols on the chopping block]

Provoked by the rise of "cancel culture" and social justice protests, Saddleback is just one of the dozens of colleges and associations whose mascots have been a source of controversy. 

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