An exclusive Heat Street review of email correspondence at a Colorado university has revealed that a student-selected nickname for an athletic facility, “the Mine Shaft,” was nixed by administrators after a student complained that “the name supports rape culture.”
Students at the Colorado School of Mines — a public university in Golden, Colorado, focused to engineering and applied science — voted overwhelmingly last year to nickname their athletic arena “the Mine Shaft.”
But in an email sent last August, a student (whose name was redacted) describes being “shocked and disgusted” at the nickname choice for the university’s Lockridge Arena.
“The idea behind the name, at least from the students perspective, was that the students could tell the opposing team they had been ‘shafted,’” the student wrote. In making her complaint, the student used another racially loaded term (and some misspellings) in an email to administrators: “The most common definition of the word means to get jipped out of a deal, which doesn’t make since [sic] for us to be telling another team. But the other and most disturbing definition is to be raped. Bottom line, I think the name supports rape culture. If Mines is truly trying to diversify the campus maybe they should not have the student section have such a phalic [sic] name.”
Administrators sprung into action after receiving the student’s complaint.
Katie Schmalzel, assistant director of housing operations, took the complaint so seriously that she forwarded it to the university’s Title IX coordinator. “I agree with [pronoun redacted] about the name being inappropriate, and goes against everything our work stands for,” she wrote.
Debra Lasich, the associate vice president for diversity and inclusion, linked to an urban dictionary page for “shafted,” adding, “most of the urban definitions don’t support their rationale.”
Nonetheless, Lasich wrote to the Title IX coordinator, “I agree with you that this needs to be addressed, and I’m concerned that that [sic] student life and the athletic department didn’t put parameters around naming the student section.”
Eventually, the Title IX coordinator lined up a meeting with the vice president of student life, who agreed to nix the name altogether to avoid giving offense.
Public records also showed that a parent wrote in complaining about the university’s fight song and mascot.
“Get a new fight song,” a parent wrote. “It is antiquated and not inclusive of women. I can’t imagine how anyone can sing, ‘I don’t care as long as I get my share.’ The school needs to improve its image of one that is HELPING the environment rather than TAKING its share from it. Commission a new song that is more catchy and positive.”
The parent also recommended that the school mascot, Marvin the Miner, be supplemented by a female, preferably Marvin’s sister.
The fight song remains on the Colorado School of Mines website, and we couldn’t find any “Melanie the Miner” mascot. Yet…
By deadline, Colorado School of Mines had not responded to Heat Street’s request for comment.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.