DORI MONSON

Dori: Is Western Washington University’s Viking mascot getting the woke boot?

Jan 14, 2022, 2:30 PM | Updated: Jan 15, 2022, 8:03 am
Western Washington University Viking...
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

He’s male. He’s Scandinavian. He’s considered by some as “too masculine” and “too aggressive.” And now, he might be getting canned.

No, I don’t mean me.

I’m talking about Victor E. Viking, who has been the mascot at Western Washington University in Bellingham for 99 years.

Why?

According to a report from June of 2021, WWU’s Legacy Review Task Force is “concerned about the harm caused by asking all members of the Western community to identify with a figure that is potentially exclusive on the basis of both ethnicity and gender.”

Already, in December, the task force convinced the university’s Board of Trustees to dump the name of the Huxley College of the Environment. The task force claims namesake scientist T.H. Huxley held “white supremacist values.”

Next in their crosshairs is the use of the mascot in the name of the Viking Union, the hub for student gatherings.

Why?

The Task Force found names idolizing conquest as out of line with the university’s contemporary values around honoring local Indigenous communities. Task Force members who did not recommend renaming in this report proposed the building name be evaluated alongside the mascot by a separate committee.

Moving forward, its members were “unanimous in agreeing that the building name and mascot should be addressed and evaluated in some manner.”

It’s not the first time Victor E. Viking has been targeted for removal. In 2015, a communications studies professor recommended a change, saying the “mascot also reflects a sort of hyper masculine, hyper violent sort of image which is doubly problematic.”

As many Bellingham and Ballard-area Scandinavians would say: Uff-da.

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Dori: Is Western Washington University’s Viking mascot getting the woke boot?