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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Question for AMU Students About the Ave Maria Gyrenes

The Naples News reports that Ave Maria University's mascot/nickname is "the Gyrenes." A gyrene is a nickname for a member of the United States Marine Corps. The name was selected because Tom Monaghan used to be a Marine himself. I think that it is outrageous that AMU has a mascot that has nothing to do with a distinguishing characteristic of AMU (geography, local fauna, curriculum, Catholic heritage, etc.), and everything to do with Tom Monaghan.

Are there any AMU students who visit Fumare, or does anyone know any AMU students? Can we get a report as to how this name was chosen? Was it by a student vote between several names, or by student suggestions and then the administration made a choice, or by administrative decision alone, or by some other method? What are the students' reactions to the name? Do students like being named after Tom Monaghan or not?

UPDATE: Here is why I think the "AMU Gyrenes" is outrageous. The great majority of secular school team names are named after some aspect of the school or its history or its location. Students identify with their team name, and so the team name should be based in some way on an aspect of the school. Catholic schools have an additional characteristic: their Catholic identity. So, for Catholic schools, I think a team should be based on the school's Catholic identity.

Some secular schools have names that aren't based on an aspect of the school, but are just tough-sounding names (e.g., Trojans, Spartans). You might think that "Gyrenes" fits this category. It doesn't. Why? Because "Gyrenes" was not chosen because it is a tough-sounding name; Tom Monaghan picked the name because Tom Monaghan is a Gyrene. In other words, Monaghan named the team name after himself. I wouldn't have a problem with a school selecting "Gyrenes" if Marines figured a role in the school's history, or even if the school just wanted to select a tough-sounding name. But that is NOT what happened here. I repeat: Monaghan named the team name after himself. That is outrageous.

I think that naming the school team after yourself is right up there with declaring your birthday a school holiday or requiring all first year students to read Pizza Tiger. Fine, you're the founder and chancellor. Make a commemorative plaque for yourself, or name the library after yourself, but don't name the team name after yourself.