CAMBRIDGE — Two members of the Cambridge college board sparred Thursday night over a presentation eventually month’s assembly by Andre Billeaudeaux, the chief director of the Native American Guardian’s Association.
At the board’s August assembly, Billeaudeaux launched himself as a social scientist and cited a research purporting to indicate that college students at a college in Virginia have been harmed by efforts to take away the college’s Native American mascot, as in comparison with college students at an identical college the place there have been no such efforts. Billeaudeaux stated his “mentor” in defending Native-themed mascots is famend social psychologist Phil Zimbardo, a professor emeritus at Stanford University.
School board member Neil Gifford stated his overview of Billeaudeaux’s credentials didn’t help Billeaudeaux’s claims. He discovered no indication on-line that Billeaudeaux holds any superior levels, and Billeaudeaux had contributed to just one peer-reviewed printed paper, in 2004. When contacted, Gifford stated, Zimbardo denied being Billeaudeaux’s mentor and accused Billeaudeaux of “intentionally weaponizing psychology” to defend Native-themed mascots.
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Billeaudeaux claims 2% Native ancestry however just isn’t an enrolled member of any acknowledged tribe. He was accompanied in August by two members of the Navajo Nation, who stated they like Native mascots. Gifford contacted the National Congress of American Indians, which has opposed Native-themed mascots since 1968. In its reply, the NCAI stated it’s the solely group that formally represents all 573 federally acknowledged tribes, and NAGA has no authority to signify Native Americans.
Gifford stated he tried to learn the research Billeaudeaux cited, however the hyperlink on the NAGA web site was damaged and he couldn’t discover it elsewhere.
“Presenting false credibility hurts our decision-making course of,” Gifford stated.
School board member Dillon Honyoust, who helps holding the Cambridge Indian, stated it was “unfair” to criticize Billeaudeaux when he wasn’t current to defend himself. The research Billeaudeaux cited was utilized in two courtroom circumstances to withstand efforts to take away Native mascots, Honyoust stated.
The NAGA members have been within the space accumulating oral histories and got here to the board assembly to “share their opinions,” Honyoust stated. “It’s unacceptable to maintain folks from talking as a result of what they’re saying doesn’t align together with your views,” he advised Gifford.
Gifford stated he defends everybody’s proper to talk however was against the introduction of questionable data. The board has handed a decision that may enable it to attraction the ruling that the college should discontinue the Indian, however hasn’t acted on it but, Gifford stated.
“New data remains to be influencing us,” Gifford stated.
Gifford’s feedback on Billeaudeaux’s background have been supported by resident Rachel Costello, who spoke in the course of the public remark interval. Costello additionally contacted Zimbardo. Zimbardo stated it’s “not acceptable to make use of mascots that mock racial and ethnic teams,” and that there isn’t any analysis displaying that college students are harmed by changing such mascots.
“He completely misrepresents my stand,” Zimbardo stated.
Although Billeaudeaux was one among his undergraduate college students, Zimbardo denied being his present mentor.
“I actually don’t have any reminiscence of him,” Zimbardo stated.
Board president Shay Price stated the board’s authorized staff submitted a overview of the board’s authorized choices to maintain the mascot earlier that day. He would ship it to the opposite board members Friday.
- Drama Club members Carol Boehlke and Adeline Record requested the board to attend a 12 months earlier than bringing the drama membership again from Hubbard Hall, the place it has been assembly for a number of years. The college students stated they most popular Hubbard Hall’s theater areas and appreciated the assistance they obtained from Hubbard Hall’s employees. Earlier within the assembly, the board accepted extending its contract with Hubbard Hall for the 2022-2023 college 12 months.
- School Superintendent Douglas Silvernell stated the college’s constructing committee checked out bettering or changing the college’s auditorium as one among plenty of capital tasks on the college’s want record. In its draft report, the committee stated a brand new auditorium would price $9 million to $10 million, all of which might fall on district taxpayers. There was additionally the query of the place a brand new auditorium would go on the college’s campus. Improving the prevailing auditorium, nevertheless, would qualify for state help. Other priorities are creating rooms for career-technical training, agriculture, and store courses, redesigning school rooms, and bettering services for the humanities applications, Silvernell stated. Replacing the athletic fields with synthetic turf was additionally mentioned. The constructing committee desires to carry a referendum on $8 million to $10 million in capital tasks in March to maintain state constructing help coming into the district, Silvernell stated. “Eight to 10 million gained’t cowl all these issues,” so the committee must select which tasks to current first and maintain the others for 5 to 10 years, he stated.
- The board created a director of pupil companies/affiliate elementary principal place for the 2022-23 college 12 months and appointed Darlene King as an interim. King, an skilled educator, will obtain a per diem wage of $550. Silvernell stated because the college 12 months has already began, he didn’t need classroom lecturers competing for the place, and King was accessible.