Seattle University students will soon be squawking, shrieking or making whatever other noise a bird of prey makes on its way to victory.
After much wait and controversy, Seattle's Jesuit university has replaced its politically incorrect mascot, the Chieftain, for the safer, somewhat fiercer Redhawk.
The announcement came today at a public unveiling in Pigott Atrium. The Redhawk will make its field debut tonight, at Seattle U.'s home basketball games against the Seattle Pacific University women's team and the Western Washington University men's team.
The mascot was chosen from 10 finalists that included Chinooks, Storm and Riptides.
"Now that people are pretty aware that they are not going to be fish or a weather pattern, they are going to be excited," said Holly Miller, a senior who served on the committee that chose the three finalists for the new mascot. The final choice was made by Seattle U.'s cabinet of vice presidents, over runners-up Red Wolves and Rainiers.
The Chieftain, a stylized profile of an Indian chief that Seattle U. made its mascot in 1938, became controversial last year when local tribes pointed out that it was offensive. The Rev. Stephen Sundborg, president of Seattle U., agreed and appointed a committee to come up with a new mascot.
Suzanne Erickson, chairwoman of that committee, said coming up with a new name was not easy. She said the committee relied on surveys of students and alumni to make sure that no possible names were offensive.
She said the vice presidents chose the Redhawks unanimously, because it was fierce enough, did not resemble a Husky and didn't conflict with any other mascot name among Jesuit schools or the members of Seattle U.'s collegiate sports conference.
Jason Madrano, past president of the Associated Students at Seattle U., was happy with the choice, and even happier that the mascot is no longer a stereotype. Madrano, a descendent of the Caddo tribe in Oklahoma, had started the discussions on campus about changing the mascot.
"I was surprised that such a progressive, educated school in such a liberal, open-minded city like Seattle would have a mascot like the Chieftain," Madrano said.
Nancy Hinderlie, a senior who is a member of the booster club "The Jammin' Jesuits," said the departure of the Chieftain is sad, but she's excited to see a new, more active mascot that can physically show up at games. She was drumming up support for the new mascot this week.
"I come from a family of Seattle U. alumni. I've always been considered a Seattle U. Chieftain," she said. "(But) It's something that needed to be done."
Erickson said there will be no official retirement ceremony for the Chieftain.
"I think we just want to move on," she said.