Last week, the inaugural president of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Guy Bailey, submitted an official mascot recommendation to the UT System Board of Regents that was later approved. His selection of the unfounded “Vaqueros,” however, is problematic in many ways. Brief moments after the mascot recommendation was announced, the ridiculed mascot became the victim of a nationwide trend on Twitter.
Whereas the intention was noble to pay tribute to North American cowboys and cowboy culture, the mascot does not accurately represent the region as Bailey believes. In fact, hardly anyone in the Valley would describe themselves as a Vaquero. Aside from this, the most pressing of all issues with this mascot selection would be its sexist innuendo. Imagine the sound of the women’s volleyball team — the UT RGV Vaqueros, and yet no men are in the group. Both UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American, which are being consolidated to form UT-Rio Grande Valley, boast a higher number of women than men among their student bodies, so it saddens me as a former UT-Brownsville student to see that not enough is being done to include this majority.
While forming a new institution, the Board of Regents should challenge themselves to be more inclusive in a 21st-century environment. We do not live in a world of vaqueros anymore, nor do we want to promote a sexist environment. As Longhorns, we should recognize the importance of being inclusive of women and realize this decision affects us all. As a member of the UT System and the Permanent University Fund, UT-Austin should not be associated with standing idly by as our partner universities promote an unethical, unreasonable and unfriendly mascot. Please join me in sending an email to the Board of Regents at firstname.lastname@example.org to express your displeasure.
— Mauricio García, a government, history, international relations and Latin American studies senior from Brownsville. He is the co-director of University relations for Latino Community Affairs at UT Austin.