During her freshman year, Nadaly Jones recalled the then-Associated Student Body president was “gung-ho” about discussing the possibility of changing the John Burroughs High School mascot, the Indian. She has since taken that mantle and is determined to accomplish what her predecessors could not.
“I want to change it,” Jones said. “It’s about time. I had teachers last year who were also trying to change it. I wanted to get the ball rolling again.”
Jones has done just that as ASB representatives, and after much deliberation, recently voted in favor of continuing the discussion by presenting the issue to the student body.
“The first night was interesting, but it was also hard because it was online,” Jones said. “A lot of people were iffy speaking up to it, but we did have really good discussions and brought up both sides of the topic.”
Before opening it up to the rest of the students, ASB formed a committee consisting of eight members to further investigate the arguments in favor of and against changing the mascot. They are in the process of reaching out to Native American tribes for their input.
According to Jones, one tribe said the mascot was not offensive as long as the school was dedicated to teaching about Native American culture more appropriately. Another found it to be offensive and racist.
The committee wants to gather as much information as possible and post all sides of the argument on a website sometime this month. ASB will then set a date for a virtual forum with students to hear all points of view before a final vote.
One of the main arguments against changing the mascot is the cost, but Jones doesn’t believe that should be a deciding factor.
“We’ve rebranded our mascot three times,” she said. “All that money that went to rebranding could have gone to changing it. Money is not the issue. It’s about human rights and just being a good person.”
Alumni have also chimed in on the issue and some see the mascot as a tradition that should not be touched.
“There are alumni who like this tradition and hold the mascot near and dear to their hearts and don’t want to change that,” Jones said. “They did go to the school but they already graduated. It should be about the students going to the school right now and there are students affected by the mascot.
Jones and her fellow ASB representatives saw an opportunity to right what they see as a wrong as the Burbank Unified School District makes an effort to provide a more inclusive environment for all students.”
“With everything going on in the world right now, it’s time,” she said. “The discussion has been here, and each year, it has been swept under the rug. I think a lot of us have been fed up with it and want to see a change. We want to see a change that will better our school environment and make kids feel safer at school and to be proud of their school.”
ASB has garnered support and made significant steps in the possible changing of the mascot but still encountered challenges along the way. Jones acknowledged that it’s a long process and it may not get done by the time she graduates.
“My goal to finalize the vote and the decision to get the mascot changed,” she said. “I definitely thought there would be more supporters to changing it. During the summer, students actually did a petition and there were a ton of people who signed it supporting the change. I originally thought it was as simple as that, but I did remember going through the process then, and now there are rules that we have to follow.”
Though this movement has taken a lot of Jones’ time, she remains committed to her ultimate goal as student body president.
“My priority is to keep students engaged and motivated,” she said. “Whether or not we get back to school, I want to keep kids smiling and hearing good things about the school.”