LSU students defend mascot from 'extreme political correctness'
- Louisiana State University students are rallying to the defense of their “Tigers” mascot after an online petition called it a “symbol of white oppression” and demanded its replacement.
- The mascot was selected in reference to the fabled "ferociousness" of Confederate units from Louisiana, but the counter-petition argues that it has since become associated with "Mike the Tiger," the live cat adopted by LSU in the 1930s.
- LSU says it is aware of the anti-mascot petition, but insists that it is "not considering changing the mascot."
Louisiana State University students are rallying to the defense of their “Tigers” mascot after an online petition called it a “symbol of white oppression” and demanded its replacement.
The original petition, created by an anonymous user on Change.org named “LaMallori,” cited a former LSU administrator’s account of the mascot’s origin, which explained that the nickname was chosen in reference to units from Louisiana that earned a reputation for toughness while fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War.
LaMallori independently claims that the soldiers from those units “were just as violent to the black slaves they owned, and later even more violent once those slaves were set free.”
Calling the LSU mascot “the most prevalent confederate symbol in the United States,” the petition deems it “incredibly insulting for any African American to have to attend to a school that honors Confederate militantism,” adding that “it is already hard enough to be black at LSU, and these symbols must be changed.”
Almost as an aside, the petition also complains that it is “cruel to cage a wild animal for the amusement of privileged white people.”
Facing backlash following Campus Reform’s report on the petition, LaMallori added an update comparing the effort to the removal of Confederate statues in New Orleans, as well as vehemently denying any racist intent behind the original wording.
“Black people will be the new majority in Louisiana, and they need to recognize this new power,” the update asserts. “They need to understand that we can shape the state in our image, just as white people once shaped the state in their image.”
Recently, though, LSU students have created a counter-petition declaring their support for the “Tigers” mascot, deriding the original petition as a form of “extreme political correctness” and asking the school to retain the “cherished” symbol.
According to the counter-petition, perceptions regarding the nickname have changed dramatically since it was first selected, notably with the introduction in the 1930s of “Mike the Tiger,” a live tiger owned by the school and named after a former athletic trainer.
“Since the advent of a live ‘Mike the Tiger’ nearly a century ago, the Louisiana Tigers have come to embrace the beautiful animal named for a renowned LSU athletic trainer—not a fiction that comes from a ‘Confederate symbol,’” the counter-petition contends. “Ditching LSU’s beloved mascot would be sanitizing history for the purpose of extreme political correctness.”
The counter-petition was created by David Walters, who is also a co-founder of the Students for Trump group at LSU, and at press time had garnered 691 signatures, surpassing the original petition’s 635 supporters.
“The point of my petition is to show that we will not put up with that kind of nonsense anymore,” Walters told Campus Reform. “[The tiger] is tradition and will remain that way.”
LSU Media Relations Director Ernie Ballard told WWL that the school is aware of LaMallori’s petition, but insisted that the school is “not considering” replacing the mascot.
He also disputed the petition’s claim that the original Louisiana Tigers were known for their especially harsh treatment of slaves, confirming that “The tiger mascot was...selected based on lore about the battlefield ferociousness of a Louisiana regiment operating in Northern Virginia,” but stating that “there is no information about soldiers’ conduct outside of battlefield accounts.”
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