One thing you might notice about housing at the U is the distinct lack of a drum and feather logo anywhere in our buildings. A lot of people see the drum and feather as a cornerstone or university culture but don’t always realize that this logo is only intended for athletics, and specifically the Utah football team, but that isn’t the only reason we don’t use it. HRE strives to create an inclusive and respectful community, and that means respecting all peoples' cultures and histories.
I spoke with Che McNeil, Resident Director for the Social Justice Advocates (SJA), about the logo and how we can strive to sustain a respectful community, and how we can always be learning. Here are a few excerpts from that conversation.
Why doesN't our department use the 'drum and feather' symbol?
Due to the Memorandum of Understanding (an agreement between the University and the Ute Tribe that outlines how the university utilizes the title Ute, along with other things), there are certain restrictions on who can use the Drum and Feather logo, and within the division of student affairs as a whole, the block U and interlocking U’s are the only logos used. You can read the Memorandum of Understanding here.
How can we empower students not to use this symbol?
“Education, always education,” said Mcneil, when hosting Utah Fan Am I, an SJA event focused on understanding cultural appropriation versus cultural appreciation. “It is also important to make it relatable, especially for students that tend to have more privilege, because it helps them to connect the dots."
What do you want to tell Current and future residents about the issue?
“Put yourself in their shoes; practice empathy more than sympathy because until they see themselves in the issue it’s not an issue.”
Cha repeated multiple times, “keep the trend” when referring what sort of U gear we collect. At Utah Fan Am I, a Utah fan shirt is given out for free, and Cha likes to charge and empower residents to “keep the trend” of drum and feather-free gear!.
Where can students continue their learning?
“The Equity Lounge (EL) in the Basement of 820, the new Equity Living Room on the first floor of Kahlert Village and connect with the American Indian Resource Center. And, if you choose to purchase Ute Gear, look for 'Ute Proud' merchandise because a portion of those proceeds go into a scholarship fund for Ute students.”
If you have more questions feel free to reach out to Cha McNeil or the American Indian Resource Center
Resident Director: Social Justice Advocates
American Indian Resource Center
Director of the American Indian Resource center