Oklahoma student gov ditches ‘Boomer’ and ‘Sooner’ for more ‘sensitive’ words
- The University of Oklahoma has traditionally used various combinations of the words “Boomer” and “Sooner” in nicknames, mascots, and chants.
- The words refer to early Oklahoma settlers, but some say they are offensive to Native Americans.
- In light of this claim, the student government is making an effort to remove any reference to the words in their operations.
Students at the University of Oklahoma are working to remove the school’s “Boomer” and “Sooner” nicknames out of concern that the words are offensive to Native Americans.
According to the OU Daily, the Undergraduate Student Congress met Nov. 12 to mandate a name change for the “Sooner Freshman Council”, citing the words “boomer” and “sooner” as offensive to the Native American community.
The university uses the nickname “Sooners” for its athletic teams and other purposes, as well as similar references to “Boomers.” Both words, in this case, refer to groups of settlers who arrived in the late 1800s to what is now the state of Oklahoma.
The decision to remove the “Sooner” name from the Freshman Council comes shortly after the Undergraduate Student Congress passed a bill in early September to execute “Indigenous Land Acknowledgment,” which includes a statement that OU students are "visitors on the land" and thanks indigenous people for being generous with their land. The reading of this bill will occur before all SGA events.
“(The) motivation was just to be consistent with the indigenous land acknowledgment we had passed to be more cognizant of some of the language ... we are using in our code annotated,” said Student Government Association President Adran Gibbs, who reasoned that the words “Boomer” and “Sooner” are offensive to Native American individuals.
The bill asserts that the word “Sooner” is “harmful in nature to those who identify as American Indian or of Native/Indigenous descent,” and that on-campus groups need to pick a more “sensitive” name within the first two weeks of fall 2020 semester.
The act passed with a roll-call vote of 19-8-7.
“I think changing the name because of this takes away from the pride of being at this school. “Boomer Sooner” represents more than just indigenous people, but everyone who chooses to be part of the OU Sooner Family,” OU Student McKinley Crone told Campus Reform.
Crone also mentioned that mascot “Sooner Schooner” is an icon on campus, and that rebranding the freshman council would be “wrong."
In 2016, the OU student government rejected a similar resolution to ditch the traditional "Boomer Sooner" salute, also out of concern that the words were offensive to Native Americans.
Campus Reform reached out to the university for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
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