To the editor: With adoption of Declaration of Inclusion, time for GM to jettison Chieftain logo

It was wonderful to hear the Chester Select Board consider and adopt a Declaration of Inclusion
on Wednesday evening. I was so encouraged to hear the supportive dialogue from most select board members.

Having been involved in the Springfield DOI committee several months ago myself, I can appreciate the amount of work and collaboration that goes into creating this document. The Declaration of Inclusion that was developed by the committee was wonderful, well written and intentional. It was clear a lot of work went into it.

I was encouraged to hear the board discussion around using this as a reflection piece to return to when it is time to make decisions that could affect others, especially marginalized populations. Additionally, two board members reflected openly and honestly about their own privilege and personal experiences that further emphasized the importance of this statement.

As mentioned at the meeting, the Declaration of Inclusion is a common vision for making everyone feeling like they belong in Chester.

It is a very positive step, and it is wonderful that so many towns in Vermont are adopting similar declarations. In light of this conversation, I hope that Chester will now look at the Green Mountain High School mascot with the same vision. This is the most obvious and highly visible example of direct harm being done to marginalized people in our town.

Discriminatory school mascots are also against the law since passage of S.139, a law to eliminate discriminatory school branding, by the Vermont Senate in July. The timing of this declaration is ironic, because GMUHS has not changed its
mascot, despite the requirement to do so before Jan. 1, 2023. The Chieftain mascot is still being used – as evidenced on the athletics website, handbook and in local stores. I hope the school board will now reconsider complying with this law by adopting a new mascot, so that our schools are, in fact, inclusive and safe places for all students in our town.

Again, thank you to the Chester Declaration of Inclusion Committee for their hard work, and the Select Board for considering and adopting this important declaration that will make Chester a nicer place for anyone who lives in or visits our town.

Deborah Velto

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  1. Beverly Hart says:

    Hoping GMUHS can work on educating the student body on racism and admit racial inequity is taking place at their school quite often and it’s time it stops getting swept under the rug! Let’s see some action to stand behind their words.

  2. Barre Pinske says:

    A school sports name and logo are instantly iconic and meaningful for generations. Within the possibility of change we have a great opportunity to pay tribute to one of the greatest athletes in history and show how progressive and inclusive we are even as a small town in rural America. I encourage everyone to join me in my campaign to have the Chieftain’s become the Caitlin’s!

  3. Jen Leak says:

    The Cavendish Select Board has also adopted a Declaration of Inclusion, agreeing to welcome people of all backgrounds and beliefs into town. The GMUHS Board needs to align with the governments of the towns it represents and do the same – the name Chieftain will always be associated with the logo. It is time to move forward.

  4. Deborah Velto says:

    The Chieftain logo is still everywhere – including on entrance to the athletic field in the dollar general and on the athletic website and social media. The name and the logo need to change under this law. There have been no announcements by the school about plans for a new mascot? I asked several students who have been working on this change and they said its been talked about but nothing has changed? So i dont think they know?! But it is great to hear that you have made that decision. Can’t wait to hear what the new mascot is!

  5. In October of 2021 the GM board voted unanimously to discontinue the use of the logo. It discussed dropping the Chieftain name but could not agree on that. The article we did at the time recounts that discussion. GM board votes to stop using Native American logo

  6. Julie Dye says:

    Clearly GMUHS cannot comply with the law or with this declaration of equity while continuing to single out Native American students to be dishonored as a mascot for fan’s entertainment. Eliminated the hostile learning environment. Change the team name.