KAUKAUNA – In 2000, Kaukauna High College principal Barbara Fox McCurdy reported the bronze Galloping Ghost statue planned in close proximity to the entrance to the new substantial university was meant to give students a “sense of the earlier.”
But then — and because then — some group associates have claimed the statue evokes a unique historic impression from the a single meant.
Depicting a ghost with its arm raised in the air riding a horse, the statue is meant to portray the school’s longtime mascot. Some say the hooded determine resembles a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Concerns about the statue’s appropriateness arose once again in January, when a team of recent pupils asked the school board to take out it.
In reaction, the district determined three opportunity possibilities for the statue’s long run, according to an emailed assertion from Superintendent Mark Duerwaechter.
The 1st selection is to go away the statue as it is, the 2nd is to insert a sign in front that reads “Welcome to the Residence of the Galloping Ghost,” and the third is to relocate it absent from the entrance entrance of the significant college.
The school board is expected to make a decision by the close of June, Duerwaechter said in e-mails to The Post-Crescent.
Even though several social media responses have criticized the students’ considerations — pushing again in opposition to the idea that a depiction of the school’s beloved mascot could be reasonably construed as racist — the learners argue that removing the statue would better reflect the inclusive and welcoming surroundings they know Kaukauna to be.
Pupils say statue gives a mistaken ‘first impression’
1 of six pupils who supplied published statements to the school board recounted the trauma and hardship handed down by the generations of their loved ones, together with their father being identified as racial slurs even though growing up in northeast Wisconsin.
The Ku Klux Klan oppressed Native Individuals by “violent and dangerous rhetoric,” the university student wrote, expressing, “we can not go away it standing any for a longer time.”
The students said they understand the statue was intended to honor the school’s Galloping Ghost mascot and not to be a hateful symbol, but that just isn’t a explanation to maintain it when it can create an unwelcoming ecosystem for people.
“Absolutely sure, record can be stated, but first impressions are often most important, so the initially perception of the Kaukauna Superior Faculty must be that of the accepting and welcoming neighborhood that it really is,” just one student wrote.
Another student, who identifies as becoming “from a minority background,” says leaving the statue up isn’t going to successfully converse that dislike isn’t tolerated.
Just one of the pupils who states they occur from a center-class white spouse and children claimed they produced a “heart-deep attachment” to the statue, getting lifted in Kaukauna. But soon after studying far more about the country’s historical past of racism and discrimination, their inner thoughts about it have changed.
“I am proud to be from Kaukauna nevertheless, the only matter that hinders that delight is the statue and the perception of it,” the pupil wrote.
In reaction to an open up data request, the district delivered a copy of the students’ penned statements and a PowerPoint presentation, with the students’ names redacted because, the district claimed, the data “associated to their instructional passions” and this kind of data are protected beneath federal state privateness guidelines.
The district board met with the pupils in closed session — not open to the general public. Duerwaechter stated he resolved on a closed session to “protect and safeguard the students’ (identities) from any harmful or adverse bodily, social or emotional adverse public repercussions.”
Under state regulation, governmental entities can meet up with in closed session in one of a slim set of exceptions. Monthly bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Facts Council mentioned it seems Kaukauna incorrectly used the exception it cited for conference with the students in closed session. That exception is meant for talking about a student’s personal data, not their feeling, he stated.
“It would be to everybody’s reward for the many thoughts on this statue to be talked over overtly and in community,” he mentioned.
Some alumni of the district and other associates of the neighborhood have told the district they want the statue to stay exactly where it is, while other folks concur with the students who elevated issues.
Hannah Uitenbroek, who graduated from Kaukauna Higher School in 2010, wrote on Fb that it is really an “honor” to have pupils like the kinds fighting to make Kaukauna a lot more “hospitable and welcoming.”
Jax Mader, a 2019 Kaukauna graduate, commented on Facebook that the statue is a private issue for them as a member of the LGBTQ+ group, as it is for other pupils of minority identities.
Both of them explained to The Publish-Crescent that a indication by the statue wouldn’t remedy everything simply because individuals wouldn’t stop to go through it. Uitenbroek explained “the dominant presence” of the large statue would nonetheless be there.
Mader claimed they want to see the statue eradicated solely because maintaining it exhibits a absence of guidance for the folks the KKK is from.
Kaukauna’s inhabitants is 97% white, in accordance to information from the U.S. Census Bureau. Because of that, Mader stated, they don’t think a good deal of men and women had publicity to racial minorities. Possessing a brother who is Black and who will be attending the significant university subsequent calendar year, Mader quickly believed of him when the discussion arose.
Uitenbroek stated she would guidance melting the statue down and repurposing the content, possibly even making use of it to make a statue of the a lot more cartoonish ghost employed in the significant school’s symbol.
The origins of the Galloping Ghost statue
Kaukauna indigenous Jim Hopfensperger was commissioned by an alumni team and the Rotary Club to create a statue “glorifying school spirit” to go in front of the superior university, a Put up-Crescent write-up from 2000 explained.
In the course of the style and design process for the $100,000 bronze statue, changes were being produced following an original outcry of concern. A bump on the again of the rider’s head was smoothed to eliminate comparisons to the Klan.
A member of the alumni team reported the accusations of the statue searching Klan-like were a “shock.”
By late January 2000, The Put up-Crescent claimed that there ended up no complaints when the remaining prototype was unveiled.
A February 2000 Kaukauna Times posting estimates Hopfensperger, who died in 2019, as declaring, “As significantly as I’m worried, it is a galloping ghost. I necessarily mean, how far do we toss this political correctness issue?”
The Kaukauna Public Library lists two feasible origins of the Galloping Ghost mascot that the statue is dependent on. The two tales day to the early to mid-1920s and start out with the higher school’s soccer workforce.
One tale suggests a reporter for a regional newspaper reported the Kaukauna soccer group dressed in all white appeared like ghosts galloping in excess of the Appleton football staff. The other tale credits the coach of the having difficulties 1924 football crew who supposedly requested his players to emulate Harold “Red” Grange, who played for the College of Illinois and later on the Chicago Bears and was nicknamed “The Galloping Ghost.”
The two tales concur that the tradition still utilised right now of a ghost-rider providing the match ball on a horse all through house soccer games dates to the 1940s.
These days, there is certainly a black and orange costume that appears to be additional identical to what an individual may well have on as a ghost on Halloween.
Increasing up in Kaukauna, Kelly Vils would observe the galloping ghost at property soccer online games, thinking she’d like to be the rider someday. She got to dwell out that aspiration in 1998. Vils was energized and happy, she explained to The Submit-Crescent in an e mail, but she did make some alterations to the costume, which was all white at the time.
She made the decision not to use the white hood that went with it. There wasn’t any dialogue about it remaining insensitive, but she stated, “something about the white hood with the eyes minimize out just didn’t sit proper with me.”
Vils mentioned she understands the background and intention behind the statue, but is also sympathetic to the people who do not have that background know-how. If there is a potential for it to be offensive to somebody, Vils reported, she would “err on the aspect of respect and sympathy and modify the statue.”
“We should not have to debate no matter if or not our statue looks like a Klansmember — our mascot or statue must be a little something that is undebatably and undeniably not racist or racially suggestive in any way,” she claimed.