- The Washington Times - Friday, August 26, 2016

A University of Iowa professor is asking the athletics department to make the university’s mascot, Herky the Hawk, display friendlier facial expressions, arguing that his angry grimace is traumatizing students.

“I believe incoming students should be met with welcoming, nurturing, calm, accepting and happy messages,” Resmiye Oral, a clinical professor of pediatrics, wrote Tuesday in an email to athletic department officials, obtained by the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

“And our campus community is doing a great job in that regard when it comes to words. However, Herky’s angry, to say the least, faces conveying an invitation to aggressivity and even violence are not compatible with the verbal messages that we try to convey to and instill in our students and campus community,” she argued.

Ms. Oral told the Press-Citizen that she has been concerned for some time about Herky the Hawk’s lack of emotional diversity. Her email to the athletics department was included in a message she sent Tuesday morning to her fellow members of the UI Faculty Senate.

“As we strive to tackle depression, suicide, violence, and behavioral challenges and help our students succeed, I plead with you to allow Herky to be like one of us, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, sometimes angry, sometimes concentrated,” Ms. Oral wrote.

Officials with the Faculty Senate told the Press-Citizen that they are currently tackling the larger issue of ensuring that the university climate is one that is safe and inclusive.

“At this time, the committee is not focused specifically on how Herky is depicted,” said Thomas Vaughn, president of the UI Faculty Senate.

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