The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Diplomas return to graduation

Diplomas return to graduation

Student Body President Patrick Kobler announced Tuesday that diplomas will return to SMU’s commencement exercises this spring.

Diplomas were mailed to May 2009 graduates rather than being handed to them as they crossed the stage at their respective ceremonies during commencement.

The temporary exclusion of the documents from graduation was due to several factors, including professors’ challenges with submitting grades to the registrar’s office in a timely manner and the subsequent processing required by the registrar to have diplomas printed and ready for distribution by commencement.

“I think this is really a great demonstration of how the student voice does have power,” Kobler said.

Kobler worked with Provost Paul Ludden through the summer and fall semesters to ensure that this change was made on behalf of the student body, and he considers it a major victory.

Student senators introduced several pieces of legislation, including a resolution establishing Peruna, the black Shetland pony, as the University’s official mascot.

The piece was drafted after this weekend’s home football game when Madeline Pickens, wife of billionaire T. Boone Pickens, gave SMU two horses as a gift.

Mrs. Pickens is heavily involved with the National Wild Horse Foundation, an organization that helps prevent the abuse and mistreatment of horses, according to its Web site.

Pickens has begun her own Dallas-based organization to further the group’s mission and provide support for the establishment of a wild horse sanctuary. Many notable public figures have been recruited to its leadership: SMU Football Coach June Jones as chairman, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Roger Staubach and Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys football club, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and singer/songwriter Toby Keith.

Student Senate Membership Committee Chair Jack Benage and Senator Jake Torres said that the purpose of their proposal is to extend appreciation for Pickens’s gesture and also eliminate potential confusion over which horse – or horses – are the true mascots for SMU.

“If [Pickens’s] mustangs are on the field, they are going to be representing us regardless of whether or not another school understands that [Peruna] is our official … mascot,” Benage said.

Benage alleged that Jones has been publicly opposed to having a Shetland pony as a mascot from the moment he arrived at SMU, providing a motive to adopt the new horses as replacements. The conditions of the Pickens gift allow Jones to use the horses in any way he chooses.

Torres, a Peruna handler, emphasized that a Shetland pony named Peruna has served as the University’s mascot since Nov. 4, 1932 and argued that a 77-year tradition should not be overturned so quickly.

The best solution, according to Benage, would be to return the horses to the wild and allow them to roam free rather than to live in captivity for use by SMU during public events.

The pair pointed out that many alumni are upset at the potential switch to using the new horses during games and at official school events. At Saturday’s SMU-Navy game, Torres and Benage said they observed many alumni wearing stickers and posting signs that proclaimed Peruna as the only mascot they would support.

Former student body president and head cheerleader J. Redwine Patterson also submitted an editorial for Tuesday’s edition of The Daily Campus calling Pickens’ gift “an egregious affront to our tradition of Peruna being our SMU mascot” and questioning the authority of the football coach to change the mascot without the university’s approval.

Senators challenged the proposal, saying that a committee established to help fund and build Gerald J. Ford Stadium recommended adopting a true mustang as the mascot.

According to Benage, discussion of changing the mascot takes place every couple of decades, but it rarely gains momentum.

A formal vote on the proposal will take place next week.

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