Logo Ethics: How Insane Is Campus Political Correctness? A Quiz

Here are four logos from U.S. institutions of learning.  Each was or  is under attack by groups of students or administrators as being “offensive,” and in each case, the school’s administration either spent or is spending time and money to comply with the concerns. You have to guess the reason for the offense in each case.

Ready? Here’s number #1, from Brooklyn College:


Give up? Well, back in 2009, we have recently learned, Karen L. Gould, who had just taken over as the first woman president of Brooklyn College, raised $107,000 to replace the old logo (the silhouette of the school’s landmark La Guardia Hall clock tower), because she thought it looked like a giant penis. [An earlier version of the post surmised that she therefore believed the logo was sexist. There is no evidence of that; it was my surmise and my error.]

She would not be happy living in Washington, D.C., clearly.

Ready for the next one? Here’s #2, from the University of Connecticut:


No, no penis, just too scary for those delicate flowers of womanhood, according to a University of Connecticut student feminist who has complained to that school’s female president. She claims the Husky is menacing to women, and suggests rape. No word on what fate is in store for the dog.

Now #3the University of Kentucky. Can you spot the offensive part?


Well? Yes, it’s another rampaging penis, masquerading as a tongue. This is an old one, with the offense being registered in 1994. Some say it was a joke, but the school’s brass decided not to take any chances, and got rid of that sexy little curl.  OK, now you’re ready for the tough one:

#4,  from the University of Denver:

denver_booneI know, I think he’s kinda cute too. But he’s been officially banned, while the school looks for a logo that is less offensive to well, someone. Chancellor Robert Coombe says that “Boone [“Denver Boone” is the little guy’s name] was a polarizing figure that did not reflect the growing diversity of the UD community, but rather was an image that many women, persons of color, international students and faculty members found difficult to relate to as defining the pioneering spirit.”

It’s clear that eventually all school logos, mascots and nicknames will have to go in the spirit of political correctness and to avoid offending anyone at all. Native Americans are degrading, ethnic figures are controversial, cartoons are stereotypes, some animals are examples of species chauvinism, others are too frightening and symbolize rape, warriors celebrate violence, men exclude women, whites exclude blacks,  pioneers and explorers suggest the rape of the natural world, any real historical figure undoubtedly did something, said something or excluded someone that constitutes an eternal offense,  and anything with a dome, a point or that constitutes a straight line is too much like a penis, also unsettling feminists.

Of course, the real problem is the unethically lazy and irresponsible administrators who always follow the path of least resistance, and allow these kind of power plays—for that’s all they are—to turn campuses paranoid and create student equivalents of the accusing girls in the Salem witch trials, who terrorize all with the threat that they may level an accusing finger and cry, “Sexist! Racist! Insensitive! Offensive!” These logo wars are how our institutions of higher education train the next generation of censors, race-baiters, fear-mongers and political correctness bullies to be our children’s teachers and our elected leaders.


49 thoughts on “Logo Ethics: How Insane Is Campus Political Correctness? A Quiz

  1. I gotta say…the one with the tongue really does look like a penis. Once it’s pointed out, I can’t unsee it. They might have changed it for that reason alone. Here are some other unintentional graphic design disasters: http://thedorkside.likes.com/hilarious-logo-fails?pid=108794&utm_source=mylikes&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=ml&utm_term=26455322

    I don’t have a problem with institutions changing logos. Most corporations tweak or change their logos constantly, if only to keep up with the times and not appear fuddy-duddy. Why not colleges?

    • Well, it’s expensive, for one thing, and colleges have better ways to spend money. And changing logos for good reasons is fine; changing it because 6 students hold a rally is idiotic.

      • I can’t unsee a Coke bottle or bowling pin in that same tongue image. I have to pause and make effort to see a penis there. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy – maybe even, a certain kind of guy – but I don’t see penises popping out just everywhere. If I did, I’d be saying (or, at least thinking) “PENIS ALERT!” to things like those baseball bats, and Selig’s tie, in the graphics to the right and left of these comments.

  2. Generally with deery here, on his point insofar as changes being almost inevitable, for reasons unforeseeable, even if psychotic. For the most part, “I could care less.”

    Still, I wish someone would honor Kurt Vonnegut with a stab at a short story classic, like that one he did about equality-obsession and the Handicapper General – a classic that mocks the modern obsession with sensitivity and offensiveness-avoidance branding in all forms of communication. Next thing you know, all obelisks will have to be torn down. And the Eiffel Tower. Current trends do not bode well for minarets…

  3. Where’s Waldo has taken on a new meaning!

    Collegiate Presidential ethics have long left the building, and their backbone tagged along… Universities are all about marketing and profit. Their quest is the collegiate version of Barney – Offend No one.

  4. Once the vegans weigh in, all carnivorous mascots must go, so bye-bye Panthers, Cougars, Tigers, Bengals. The culturally oversensitive will erase any historical named teams, such as 49ers, Patriots or Volunteers. Probably the Utah Jazz will be the last to go.

        • Trying to be optimistic (absolutely, the most impossible thing for an Eeyore to do): Maybe the evolving standards of correctness and sensitivity will go full circle. Or, full half-circle. Or, something like that. I understand that in the women’s professional basketball leagues, more of the team members than not are lesbians. Great! Then it should be only a matter of time before we see catchy and sensitive team names such as the “4D’s,” “Quad-Deez,” or just “QuadZ” – for “Dribbling, Dodging, Dunking Dykes.”

  5. Not ALL cultural groups are out of bounds- I went to Michigan State, and I’ve never heard fuss about “Spartans.” Apparently it’s OK since Spartans are 1) White, so there’s no minority being exploited through mascot exaggeration, and 2) Very far away, so they dont’ remind anyone about how a lot of pioneers were white? Or something. The mascot also wears a skirt, so he is inclusive.

      • Well a lot of ancient Greece had an interest in banning them, not that it always turned out well… I don’t know as I get your reference, though, if it’s something relatively modern. Is there some sort of regionalism against those born in Sparta in current Greece? (Oh, and that’s cool about your Grandmother. Spartan blood flows in your veins, we are like brothers now 😀 )

    • You can be expelled for wearing any item of clothing with Eastern Michigan’s former logo, even though the local Potawatomi tribe asked the school to keep it…

      • Central Michigan is still the Chippewa. From what I’ve heard the local Chippewa band was more vocal about their support, after seeing the fate of EMU, and the admins didn’t fold like cheap suits. I think something similar happend with the Seminole and Florida State.

        I understand those who say team names like “Redskins” or “Indians” are inappropriate (I don’t agree, but I understand). But when the team name is the “Chippewa” and the actual Chippewa are saying “No, we still live here and we’re good with it, it’s quite the compliment actually,” the mind boggles that people STILL say “But it’s offensive to the indigenous peoples! Who are apparently far too stupid to know how offensive it really is!”

  6. I’m stating the obvious here… but the real harm such manufactured faux-outrages do is to obscure any true ones.

    Cry WOLF often enough and the real wolves get through unhindered.

    By being idiots, they provide evidence that causes all such claims to be disbelieved as just more of the same nonsense, regardless of validity.

  7. I’m so tired of STUPID people.
    All the problems in the world that need fixing and they take on this.
    That’s a special kind of stupid.

  8. They high school I graduated from used to be “The Purple Raiders” (a Native American raider). Shortly after I graduated, some busy-body toolbag decided that people were offended (I guess the massive Native American population of both of them in this town), so they decided to drop it.

    they let the student body at the time vote for the new Mascot, and guess what they chose…

    They voted for “none”. No mascot. If they couldn’t have the Raider, they didn’t want one.

    Was very proud when I learned they did that. Good kids.

    Granted, these days they would have voted for them to be “The Beliebers” or some shit, but for one moment, I didn’t hate them…

  9. As for #2, I have to laugh. I laugh every time a ‘feminist’ claims they are too delicate to handle the most mundane things. Now, apparently, dogs are on the list. Not even dogs, cartoon representations of dogs are too much for the female of the species. If these people had been the feminists during Suffrage movement, women wouldn’t have the right to vote. If I thought such ‘feminists’ were correct about women, I would questions the right of women to vote myself.

  10. I have serious doubts about whether the Brooklyn College story is true.

    Not that I doubt that the old logo (and the building itself, for that matter) looks like a penis – it really does, and if you don’t think thousands of BC students were sniggering at the old logo and using bic pens to alter it, then you don’t remember college students very well.

    Not that I doubt that they changed the logo (the new logo is, by the way, MUCH more professional looking; if the old logo is the best the free campus design center can do, then the President was right to hire better designers).

    But neither the Daily Caller article nor the NY Post article it was based on include any evidence at all that President Gould made the change “because she thought it looked like a giant penis, and was thus sexist.” And if she didn’t change it for that reason, then framing the story as “PC gone wild!” – rather than as a rather hum-drum college logo change, something colleges regularly do – is a lie.

    It is true that a different woman – who apparently had nothing to do with the decision to get a new logo – made a snide reference in a memo to the old logo looking like a penis. (Which it does). That is not evidence that Gould decided to replace the logo for that reason.

    As far as I can tell, the PC-Brooklyn College story is a lie that conservatives made up. (But if any real evidence can be shown to me, I could change my mind.)

    • 1) I think the dome looks like a breast, not a penis.
      2) My penis doesn’t have that sharp thing sticking up from it. I’d get that taken care of, if I were you.
      3) The dog-tongue penis story IS true, and it’s far more ridiculous than the Brooklyn logo story. I know the Post isn’t the most reliable source, but I wouldn’t leap to the conspiracy theory that the whole thing was made up.

      • 1) and 2) It’s not just the dome, but the shaft below it. And the stuff above the dome is obviously ejaculate spurting out. Geez, Jack, weren’t you ever 14? :-p

        3) The dog-tongue penis is also a 20 year old story. And it may be ridiculous, but how is it an example of PC run amok? The drawing has an unintentional image in it (in this case of a penis), so they edited it. Why is that PC? Do you really think conservative illustrators never edit their images to get rid of unintentional visual puns?

        3.5) If the reverse happened – if MSNBC reported a story that made conservatives look incompetent and ridiculous, but oh-so-conveniently reported no evidence at all to support their claims – I somehow doubt you’d report it as fact, without expressing any skepticism at all. (I wouldn’t.)

        I don’t know if the story is true. But the fact that no evidence supporting the story has been printed, makes a degree of skepticism reasonable.

        By the way, neither the Post nor the Caller reported that she wanted to replace it because “it was thus sexist” – that’s a claim that you, Jack, apparently made up. It’s also not true that the $107,000 was spent solely on the new logo, although anyone would think so from the way you wrote your blog post. Those are both untruths that you (inadvertently, I’m sure, not purposely) report as if they were facts.

        You should correct your post, both to note that no evidence to support the story’s truth was reported, and to correct your false statements.

        • If the reverse happened – if MSNBC reported a story that made conservatives look incompetent and ridiculous, but oh-so-conveniently reported no evidence at all to support their claims

          I invite you to watch any and all of their programing at any point in the day, but specifically their evening line-up…

          • No, thanks. First of all, I don’t have cable TV. Second of all, I’ve seen enough cable news in my life to be convinced watching it would put my brain in danger of liquifying and leaking out of my ears.

            That said, I don’t doubt that the reverse does, in fact, happen. And if it does, I would not blame you for being skeptical about the truth of the story.

        • As it happens, campus PC nonsense is almost completely the realm of the nutty left. (The nutty right’s equivalent crusade is demon music , plus sex and violence on TV.) Since the whole PC purging of mascots and logos and team names is ridiculous, and there are too many example to count, I don’t know why anyone would have to make up such a story, which is why I doubt conservatives lied about the Brooklyn incident. I think on a healthy campus, in a healthy social and political environment,the tongue would be a non-issue, the topic of jokes but not protests.

          Your contention about “conservatives lying” regarding the Brooklyn logo is an assumption of your own. The original article said,

          “One of Karen Gould’s first acts as president of Brooklyn College was to thrust $107,000 into creating a new school logo — because the old clock-tower silhouette was supposedly too phallic looking, insiders said.” Insiders means sources asking not to be identified because they would lose their jobs. That means to me that people near to the decision heard Gould’s reasoning for it. As to the money not being used just for the logo, I don’t see how you conclude that from the sources.

          I’ll fix the other statement, because you’re right—I was projecting. She might have objected to the logo on aesthetic grounds.

          • 1. Here’s a 1994 news article about the Kentucky logo change. There’s no indication that either feminists, liberals, or protests were involved. Furthermore, while objecting to racist logos is indeed a left-wing act, objecting to subliminal penises that malicious designers had allegedly hidden in logos was more of a right-wing thing in the 80s and 90s. Thankfully, that particular urban myth seems to have faded.

            That said, I don’t see anything wrong or ludicrous about redrawing a tongue because it looks a lot like a penis. These designs weren’t brought down by Moses from the mountain; they’re supposed to serve a particular purpose, and if it turns out that they’re making a lot of people snigger (which was not the intended purpose), why is it wrong or ridiculous to modify the logo?

            (Myself, I feel bad for the artist. I know from personal experience that it’s perfectly possible to accidentally draw a penis – or a vagina, for that matter – and not even see it until someone points it out to you, after which it can’t not be seen.)

            2. It wasn’t just a logo redesign. According to the NYPost story, “the college hired Baltimore-based Neustadt Creative Marketing to draft a new logo and redo the Web site.” According to Neustadt Creative Marketing’s website, the job also include designing brochures and designing a series of poster advertisements. Then again, maybe they charged $107,000 for the logo redesign and additional money for everything else – the Post’s sloppy writing makes either interpretation possible.

            Making a big deal of this seems (what’s the conservative equivalent of “PC”?). BC switched from a rather amateurish logo that some folks sniggered at, to a more up-to-date logo as part of a larger rebranding and advertising campaign. Why do you think that’s a ridiculous thing to do?

            “Insiders” could mean anything – note that they didn’t say “insiders close to the process” or anything like that. It could just be a bitter professor, or someone’s secretary repeating something heard fourthhand. People believe what they’re eager to believe.

            Just to clarify, however, I don’t think that conservatives made it this story in a conscious, conspiracy way. Rather, I think that conservatives have a prior narrative about feminists and progressives, and they are biased in favor of “projecting” that narrative onto events, even if the evidence is in fact extremely weak.

            I also think you’re staking your argument on the credibility of an unnamed, undescribed source in a newspaper story that opened with a “thrusting” penis pun. As I recall, in a post about Anthony Wiener you suggested that sort of thing was unethical and undermined journalistic standards and credibility. Do you no longer think that?

            I’ll fix the other statement, because you’re right—I was projecting.

            Thank you!

            Unfortunately, your post still contains flat-out lies, although in this case the Daily Caller is the liar, and you’re just accepting what they say at face value.

            You write “She claims the Husky is menacing to women, and suggests rape.” This is false. Here’s a typical passage from her letter:

            President Herbst, the new Husky logo may not be capable of frightening small children, but the face of real life UConn athletics is certainly capable of frightening college women.

            No fair reading of that, or of anything else she wrote, would be that she’s saying the logo is “menacing to women” or “suggests rape.” She’s saying that student athletes who commit domestic violence are frightening. In her letter, she specifically contrasts the “fictional” husky logo with “real-life” huskies (i.e., student athletes), and it is only the latter she calls frightening.

            In this case, I think the Daily Caller just lied – no one who had read the original letter could have made the claims the DC did in good faith. Perhaps you should issue another correction?

            • Oh, come on. She is referring to recent sexual assault allegations against student athletes. You don’t seriously think she’s saying that female students are literally frightened of the PICTURE do you? Of course she is referencing sexual assault. The DC is playing fair here; you are not.

              Why do you defend this crap, and by extension, the lazy and fearful college administrations it encourages?

              • Wait a moment, Jack.

                You claimed that “according to a UConn feminist” the wolf logo is “just too scary for those delicate flowers of womanhood.” You claimed that this feminist “claims the Husky is menacing to women, and suggests rape.”

                You can’t possibly be standing behind those words, Jack. Those words are flat-out untrue.

                All I’m “defending” here is the idea that you should be truthful in what you write. What you claimed she said, she never said. Therefore, you shouldn’t be falsely claiming she said it. How is that too complicated for you to comprehend?

                • Barry, I dispute that. There had been an episode of sexual assault oncampus that she was referring to, obviously, and thus the meaning was clear. I did not quote her, I accurately represented her apparent meaning, which I have every right to do, and which is not only fair, but responsible. You would give the complaint a vagueness that robs it of meaning, and gives it an ambiguity that, in context, it simply doesn’t have. It’s good lawyering, I’ll grant you, but hides the truth.

  11. Under the direction of former University of Denver Chancellor Robert Coombe, DU deployed an intricate series of abusive and torturous techniques designed to intimidate, harass and injure myself and others for the purpose of covering-up a scandal wherein upwards of a dozen DU students and 5 community volunteers were abused, injured and at times almost killed by the University of Denver.

    Many of those violations occurred within the academic and research prgrams of one Professor Ann Sher Simon PhD; Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Denver. Those persons participating in the scandal and its associated cover-up include DU Chair of Biological Sciences Joseph Angleson; DU Chair of the Biology Department Graudate COmmittee Scott Barbee; DU Dean Michael Keables; former DU Associate Provost of Research Cathryne Potter; DU Associate Provost of Graduate Studies Barbara Wilcots; DU Director of Equal Opportunity Kathryne Grove; former DU Director of Teaching & Learning Michael Katz; former DU Director of Teaching & Learning Julanna Gilbert; DU Director of Environmental Health & Safety Christopher Short; DU Counsel Paul Chan and former DU Chancellor Robert Coombe.

    DU Students & volunteers were forced to endure third-world-like sweatshop labor practices. So severe were these abuses, occurring over a three-year period, that many of my associates now refer to Dr. Anna Sher-Simon as “Sweatshop Simon”. Students and volunteers were forced to work 12+ hour days, often for weeks on end, in the blazing heat of the desert, with no days off. Students were forced to work while ill and injured, not allowed to seek out medical attention, and threatened with termination if they missed work due to illness or injury. Students were forced to defecate & urinate upon the ground, in close proximity to sleeping ajnd eating quarters. Students were forced to maintain pershiable foods in unsafe conditions, resulting in numerous cases of food poisoning. Students were forced to bathe and wash dishes in rivers receiving copious amounts of cattle feces. Students became ill with food poisoning and gerardiasis (Beaver Fever). One student was forced to work 12+ hour days, in the heat of the desert, while not eating during Ramadan. Students were forced to work 12+ hour days surrounded by wildfire, with no required protective gear, even after two of their worksites were incinerated and the US Army ordered their evacuation. Those students suffered permanent damage to their respiratory and circulatory systems.

    The University of Denver did nothing to assist, heal or compensate their victims. Instead, the University of Denver, under the direction of former DU Chancellor Robert Coombe, endeavored to cover-up the scandal. In addition to these indignities, Professor Anna Sher Simon plagiarized the published works of her graduate student, and submitted false data and conclusions to the United States Bureau of Land Management, The NAture Conservancy, and other conservation organizations. Anna Sher Simon and Denver University also confiscated data and work of a graduate student that was promised him for scholarly and publication purposes.

    The University of Denver & Anna Sher Simon PhD unfairly and unlawfully terminated me from my PhD program and employment as a means to facilitate the cover-up of this scandal. To this day, they continue to harass, intimidate and retaliate me by hiring private investigators to rifle through my private affairs; causing disruption of many personal relationships and also the decline of my health; requiring numerous hospitalizations.

    The University of Denver ripped me off in spades- as well as 11 other students. Many of us will pay with our lives due to the exposure to unsafe working conditions. Denver University has shirked its responsibility to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of its most precious resource: THE STUDENT.

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