Sunday, July 27, 2014

Southwestern College Left Navigation

SWC Mascot

"The Governing Board of the Southwestern Community College District formally changed the College’s mascot from the Apache to the Jaguar in May 2001. The decision was the result of approximately two years of campus discussion in response to local and national concerns about using people as mascots. The U.S. Civil Rights Commission had previously made a formal recommendation and issued a call to all schools and colleges to stop using Indian names as mascots and team names, deeming their use insensitive to American Indians.

The Jaguar was chosen due to its influence in the Mayan culture, which has been the dominant influence in the architectural design of the Southwestern College campus. The Maya were the largest culture in all Central America and their civilization excelled in the sciences, developed advanced calendar systems and used the mathematical concept of pi to calculate the movement of the stars and to design their cities. Additionally, Maya hieroglyphs make up one of only five independent writing systems ever developed and further reveal the sophistication of the Mayan culture.

The College’s theatre was named “Mayan Hall” when it opened 40 years ago. And, the Governing Board of the Southwestern Community College District has continuously and consistently emphasized the importance of adhering to Mayan inspired architecture in the remodeling, renovation, or construction of all buildings on campus. A glass etching of the Maya legend of the Ballmarker, El Marcador de Pelota, has become the focal point of the College’s new Student Center.

The Maya played a serious ball game called tlachtli wherein the players successfully completed their bargain with the universe. The objective of the game, an allegory for the continuation of life, was to keep the ball in motion. Individuals who entered the court were required to work collaboratively to be successful. The design represents the movement of the sun and the passage of time. If the game were played correctly, the order of the universe would be maintained and the success of the Maya world secured. The Ballmarker assured that all who stepped into the court were mentally, spiritually, physically, and intellectually prepared.

The legend of the Ballmarker is symbolic of preparation for the rigors of a competitive and changing world, an appropriate and fitting legend to be affiliated with the academic learning environment and culture of Southwestern College.

The Jaguar appears as a recurring theme in Mayan legend, frequently depicted as being associated with royalty, strength, beauty, power, and intelligence. Jaguars are distinguished as being the largest and most powerful cat in the Western Hemisphere and they are rarely aggressive toward humans. Unlike leopards, Jaguars never developed man-eating tendencies and coexisted with humans in a relationship marked by awe and respect. Although all of the big cats have inspired their share of myths and legends, few have played such a pivotal role in the religion and culture of a continent as the Jaguar. Considered to be a Mesoamerican deity, the Jaguar formerly roamed lands from the south of the current states of California, New Mexico and Texas in the United States, all the way to Uruguay and northern Argentina.

The College’s official jaguar image was designed by Southwestern College student, Aaron Ulloa Chavez, and is available in two design formats, the rare black jaguar and a tawny-colored version. Most Jaguars are a yellowish brown with dark rosettes that resemble paw prints, but their coats may vary and there are totally black specimens that resemble panthers. Jaguars are in the group of the roaring cats and their roar has been likened to a series of hoarse coughs, which function as a means of proclaiming territorial boundaries and announcing their presence.