Amy Lieu, Fox News, July 11, 2018
“The world needs more cowboys,” the University of Wyoming says in a new marketing slogan.
The slogan has drawn backlash from critics, including faculty members and Native American groups, who call the catchphrase sexist, racist and counterproductive to university recruitment — because it excludes women and people of color, Reuters reported.
“Honestly, I thought it was a joke at first,” associate professor Ellen Currano told the Chronicle of Higher Education. “I thought it was a joke. And then I looked it up on the university web page and saw that no, this was, in fact, serious.”
The university’s mascot is a “cowboy” riding a bucking horse with hat in hand.
But Darrell Hutchinson, a cultural specialist, told Reuters that people who do not fit the stereotypical image of a cowboy — “a white man with a wide-brimmed hat riding the range on horseback” — are not made to feel welcome.
“If you’re not a white person, and especially if you’re an Indian, it would make you feel out of place — it wouldn’t make you feel too good about yourself,” said Hutchinson, a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming.
But university officials in Laramie defended the tagline, which they said was created by a Colorado-based marketing firm.
“In a vacuum, the term ‘cowboy’ appears gender- and perhaps race-specific, but in the context of the branding campaign it is connected to images and words that show our cowboys are diverse, of every sex and background,” university spokesman Chad Baldwin said, according to Reuters.
A group of female scientists also wrote a letter to university administrators, asking them “embrace a slogan that takes us into the 21st Century,” according to the education news site.