We are Highlanders, not Reds


Our Opinion

The Student Government Association and Radford University’s administration are debating on reverting back to the mascot and red and white colors of the “Rowdy Red,” a mascot RU dropped and changed in the ‘70s. The Highlander and his plaid colors might be completely erased and become a part of RU’s history, which would leave Highlander supporters seeing red.

On March 8, 2004, the idea of changing our mascot was first brought up in an SGA meeting. Since then, the topic has been tossed around and no final decision has yet been made, so the fate of the Highlander is still in question.

RU’s current mascot, named the Highlander, was first adopted in the ‘a70s for the Scottish-Irish heritage of Southwest Virginia. The school colors were changed from the original purple and gray to the tartan plaid colors of red, white, blue and green.

The actual face of the Highlander has been changed three times. The previous Highlander had a costume that resembled a Viking. The new Highlander, released last year at Homecoming 2006, is by far the best. The Highlander has paraded during Homecoming through Radford, the heart of the New River Valley, for decades; can we bear to lose him?

A Highlander is a fearsome, strong, brawny and proud individual. It is a mascot that incites power and courage when you think of all he stands for. Red is a color; there is no history behind a crayon color. How can we stand behind a mascot that has no distinctive shape or form? Red is not an animal or being and it has no substance. It is nothing but a description.

“The Rowdy Red does not represent our school as much as the Highlander, because he is not [as] tough and sturdy as the students who attend RU,” said RU senior McKenzie Brown.

Many students not accustomed to the Rowdy Red have jokingly termed him as “Elmo gone ogre.” He was described by Stephanie Overton, the Assistant Director of Creative Services, as the “lovable, fuzzy red guy.” The interesting thing about Red is that he wore a tartan plaid colored hat, reflecting once again the heritage that the university made the complete move towards in the ‘70s.

How many other schools have red and white colors? And how original is the name the Reds? The Highlander and the tartan plaid separate us from other schools and make us stand out among a crowd of similarities.

If you talk about your university to family or friends, do you really want to say, “I’m a Red?” It does not have nearly as much strength, power and pride as saying, “I am a Highlander.”

Other schools’ mascots are Cougars, Blue Devils, Knights, Spartans or other prideful, threatening symbols. It is not often you hear of the Yellows or the Whites. Mascots are supposed to be reflective of the school, its themes and its history. Mascots are not supposed to be adjectives.

RU’s current administration is trying to encourage the theme that RU is not the “party school,” but bringing back the Rowdy Red will not help that cause. The idea behind a Rowdy Red used to be based on alcohol and rambunctious revelry from old folklore stories that influenced the idea still to this day; which is the complete opposite idea of what the administration is intending to promote. When it comes down to it, not many positive things can come of switching back to the Rowdy Reds.

Already, the Dedmon Center has been repainted red and white, and all sports teams jerseys are red and white. Granted, the cheerleaders and field hockey players would look overly cliché in a plaid tartan skirt. So, even though the teams may look better in red and white, why does that have to spread through the entire campus?

The school newspaper, The Tartan, has been named such since the ‘70s also. What will happen if everything goes to the Reds? The Tartan would have to completely change their name because they would be standing alone, sounding awkward and out of place. All the work the name The Tartan has generated across the state and country will go out the window, and the student newspaper will have to completely start from scratch to regain all prestige they had before.

The same goes for RU itself. If we change back to the Rowdy Reds, all honors, prestige and work that the name Highlander has brought RU will be erased and the Reds will have to start anew.

Tradition should not always be changed; many times it is the glue that holds the fabric of RU and life together. Tradition is what gives you pride and honor in your school. The Highlander and the tartan plaid colors are a long-standing tradition that has instilled itself within us over the decades.

RU students have come to bleed tartan plaid; we can’t go back to just bleeding a normal non-threatening red. We stand firm behind the saying portrayed on one RU student’s bumper sticker: “We are a Highlander; we always will be a Highlander; WE ARE NOT A RED.”


Date Posted:   09/19/2007   |   Time Posted:   13:14:49 | Views: 44389


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elnuttero wrote on 03/10/2009 at 17:59:47:
Yeah this article is dead wrong. You should check your facts better. I graduated in 1995 and Rowdy Red was around the whole time. Rowdy Red Rules!


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Ruth wrote on 09/26/2007 at 11:09:42:
Actually, Rowdy Red was introduced as the mascot shortly after the Dedmon Center opened in 1981. Rowdy Red remained the mascot (the teams were all called Highlanders; Rowdy Red was just a mascot, like the Phillie Phanatic or San Diego Chicken) until replaced by the Highlander in 1996. He was not around in the 1970s.


Shai Cullop wrote on 09/20/2007 at 15:00:37:
It saddens me that after all these years of having pride in my school because of its uniqueness, my pride has been reduced to the clichéd combination of red and white. In my opinion, not only does the prospect of having the “Rowdy Red” as our mascot only weaken our reputation, but also the change from Tartan plaid to red and white will only cause us to fade into the background, to drown in a sea of colleges and universities that share our new bland colors.


Rick Snee wrote on 09/19/2007 at 15:02:43:
You know Reds refers to Communists, right? You might as well change the mascot to the Pinkos. You'd think the school would at least worry about encouraging students to smoke Marlboro Reds.


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