RTSD School Board Votes to Retire “Raider” Name and Logo

RTSD School Board Votes to Retire

Ellie Davis, Associate Editor

On Wednesday, September 2nd, the Radnor Township School District School Board voted to retire the Radnor “Raider” name and logo. The first vote “to remove all Native American imagery related to the Radnor Raider mascot” passed unanimously, and the second vote to remove the raider name passed 8-1, with Nancy Monahan as the only dissenting vote. Amidst the national demand for racial justice, rebranding of the Washington Football Team, and mascot change in Unionville School District, this decision came after months of advocacy from student and community groups. 

On August 4th, the board held a Special Meeting, so they could “hear community comments on this topic.” To start the meeting, Michael Petitti shared a presentation on the history of the Radnor mascot, after which more than 130 teachers, parents, students, and community members shared their comments. 

Though the community shared mixed opinions, the overwhelming majority of commenters, totaling more than eighty, supported changing both the Radnor name and logo. This included Leslie Greenfield, the granddaughter of past Native American Radnor Coach Emerson “Chief” Metoxen. The Native American symbolism, as some Radnor Alumni recall, was based upon Coach Metoxen, with his consent in an act of admiration. Greenfield, however, said that “clinging to this offensive stereotype out of a misplaced sense of tradition or in an effort to honor him would do a disservice to his memory.” 

 Kyle Addis, a 2018 Radnor graduate, former class president, and football and lacrosse player, shared a different opinion, stating that “some change may be appropriate,” but the name “Raider” should stay without the “Native American Facial Profile.” Like other supporters of the “Raider” name, he cited the fact that the name Raider existed before it was associated with any Native American imagery. 

After more than four hours of public comment, the board adjourned the meeting and resumed the discussion at last night’s meeting. 

Each board member made thoughtful comments describing the Native American imagery as harmful, and they discussed how Radnor can improve through education. Nancy Monahan expressed her support for “showing the [Raider] memorabilia somewhere in the high school,” noting “it would not purely erase our history, it recognizes it and provides an educational opportunity for us.” Liz Duffy also mentioned how “there is an opportunity to look at our curricula to incorporate experiences of indigenous people.” 

Though all board members agreed to remove the Native American imagery, some disagreed about retiring the name “Raider.” Monahan shared how she thought it would be “nice to keep the Raider name,” referencing the Colgate Raider and, similarly to Kyle Addis, the fact that “this name was founded in the 1930s,” with no “intention to have any Native American tie.” Other board members disagreed. 

Lydia Solomon, who made the motion to retire the “Raider” name, brought up the history of the debate surrounding Radnor’s Mascot. “I sat on the board in [2013],” she said, “when we had many passionate people come forward asking us to remove the Native American connection and we came up with a compromise which is what we are facing today. I felt like if we don’t remove the Raider name now, we will be faced with this next year, and the year after that.”

Andrew Babson echoed Solomon’s sentiments, agreeing that “having a clean slate” and retiring the word “[Raider] is the best move forward.”

Jeff Jubelirer added to the discussion, in part, by referencing Leslie Greenfield’s public comment and the Metoxen family, saying the letter “hit home” and “they are offended by the imagery they are offended by the name.” 

Though the board members took the time to discuss the harm they saw in the mascot, they also acknowledged how choosing a new school symbol can be a positive bonding experience. Sarah Dunn shared an anecdote about her years in college when the students successfully protested to change the school’s mascot, and how she wants the highschool students to “be excited about something in this terrible pandemic year, and what I would like is for you guys to have the joy I did in calling all my college friends and campaigning for them to vote for the mascot I wanted.” 

Amy Goldman similarly brought up the patchwork of logos and names across the district’s educational levels, asking the community to “imagine if all of our students could be celebrated for their individuality and could be unified in a common school district identity.”

Towards the end of the discussion, Bradly Moore, the only Radnor Alum on the board, shared how he “won’t feel any less of a connection with Radnor for all 13 years I attended Radnor Schools.” Looking forward, Moore also mentioned how this “isn’t the most important issue involving race in Radnor schools. We have a lot of work to do with race in Radnor Schools.”

  Superintendent Ken Batchelor shared how the administration, in collaboration with the students, alumni, and community, “will look at developing a plan that we can share with the board” about how “we want to establish a new mascot.” He expects to present the plan either in September or October.