Simpson community speaks out against ‘Redmen’ shirts

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Simpson community speaks out against ‘Redmen’ shirts

Photo submitted to Simpsonian

Photo submitted to Simpsonian

Photo submitted to Simpsonian

Photo submitted to Simpsonian

by Chase Thurston, Staff Reporter

Recent sightings of Simpson Redmen shirts for sale in Indianola sparked outrage from college faculty and students.

The shirt, featuring a caricature of what appears to be a Native American, was originally seen on Facebook in a post that has since been removed. The post claimed the shirts were being sold by a local business, Keller Designs & Screenprinting. 

The shirts were created and sold to celebrate this year’s homecoming. 

In 1992, Simpson College officially changed its mascot from the Redmen to the college’s current mascot, the Storm. 

The shirts were deemed “discriminatory, offensive, and disrespectful” by the Simpson faculty in a statement to college administration. 

In response to the racist t-shirt sales, both Simpson faculty and President Simmons released statements reaffirming the college’s inclusivity statement. However, these statements originally excluded students from the list of recipients, prompting a swift and stern response from SGA president Jailyn Seabrooks. 

“I want to believe that this was an accident and you meant to include students,” Seabrooks said. “But after students being excluded from the strategic plan meetings and having to ask to be included in the brand discussions, it is impossible to not notice a pattern.”

Additionally, Seabrooks was disappointed with the response from the administration.

“What action is being done to assure these shirts will not appear on campus or at the homecoming game on Saturday?” Seabrooks said. “Our college claims to value inclusivity and diversity, but in situations like this we lack action.”

President Simmons responded with another email, this one addressed and sent out to the entire campus community, apologizing for not including students in the original release of the statement. He emphasized the college’s strides in promoting diversity and inclusivity.

Simmons also touted SGA’s resolution to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day and the awarding of the Carver Medal as evidence that Simpson has come far since shifting away from the derogatory mascot. 

However, there was still little said about actions being taken by the college to prevent the sale of the shirts or their appearance on campus. 

This incident is not the only current example of Redmen apparel popping up for sale. The website ‘Prep Sportswear’ currently maintains a page with numerous apparel items bearing the Simpson Redmen logo, including t-shirts, sweaters and hats. 

“I think the most important thing that can come out of this is that we educate the campus community, some terms, some logos, some mascots, they shouldn’t be used, especially when they get into racially sensitive areas,” sophomore student senator Noah Trujillo said.

Since the original sightings of the shirt on campus that prompted a flurry of responses, there have been no additional reports or mentions of the shirt appearing on campus again.

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