MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Marquette Area Public Schools Superintendent, Bill Saunders asked members of the community to form the MSHS Nickname Research Committee. Saunders and the MAPS Board of Education are asking these people to research three question connected to the use of the schools nickname, the Redmen and the Redettes.
“To see if they are in anyway creating and adverse learning environment for children, for students at the high school,” said Joe Lubig, Chairman of MSHS Nickname Research Committee. “If the nicknames are still a source or have a sense of pride for all students. And if the nicknames are culturally insensitive. And so, our job is to look for evidence around those three questions.”
Lubig is a former Marquette Area Public Schools teacher and served on their Board of Education in past. Members of the community have been invited to provide input on these questions through an email account set up called firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re getting responses and the committee wanted to make sure that we could provide a point of access to for folks,” said Lubig. “Our charge is to collect evidence. So if somebody agrees or disagrees with any or all of those questions, we wanted to know the evidence the evidence they used to make that statement. And as you can imagine, we’re getting some opinion statements through the email and we’re also getting answers to the questions with evidence provided and that’s really helpful to us.”
About 10 years ago, the schools logo changed from a Native American head to the letter ‘M’. Lubig says that was done with no pushback.
“This is an interesting thing with Marquette school is every elementary school, the alternative high school and the high school all have a separate logo, a mascot and nickname,” said Lubig. “So there isn’t a consistent nickname across the district, which some of our committee members have brought up and really those folks in the committee who are involved with athletics.”
Lubig says something like this might spark conversations in other U.P. communities who have schools with controversial mascots and nicknames.
“I mean we’re in the business of education and that means discussing controversial and coming to some shared agreement as to how we’re going to move forward around how our schools are run, how they look, how they’re named, how they’re resourced,” said Lubig. “I work a lot with the superintendents in the Upper Peninsula and teachers and students and everybody goes about their day and what they’re trying to do everyday with great intention. It’s bringing things forward that are troublesome to large groups, small groups. Those are difficult conversations but everyone of our schools is set up to have those conversations and then their elected school boards are all willing to do the same thing and that’s just part of how we function in a democratic society.”
People have until November 26 to submit their responses on the issue. From there, the committee will look at those responses and make a recommendation to the MAPS Board of Education at their meeting on December 16.
Local 3 reached out to the schools district and said that they will not be answering any questions regarding the issue at this time.