Death to the Monarch

After 72 years of representing the student body and athletics programs, Valley College’s mascot’s time has come and passed.

Opinion by Matthew Royer, Political News Editor

Valley College's mascot, the Monarch, has reigned for far too long. (Graphic by Matthew Royer/The Valley Star)

Seventy-two years later, it is time for a change to better represent the community and Valley’s diverse student body. It is time for a new mascot.

Just west of Valley College’s campus lies the Tujunga Wash. The tributary of the Los Angeles River, which lands used to be home to the Tongva indigenous peoples, is also home to The Great Wall of Los Angeles. On this wall hangs a mural, a half-mile stretch dubbed “The History of California.” Featured is the arrival of the Spanish who colonized the California Natives during the inquisition, creating the mission system and what became known as the “Houses of Death.” A death sparked initially by Spainards King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I, the Monarchs.

The year is 1949, Valley College is founded for a growing San Fernando Valley. The pioneer class is tasked with giving the campus its mascot, a name its students will be known by for years to come. What students select is the Monarch. No, not the butterfly that’s pattern can be seen across Southern California, but rather the crown, a symbol of royalty and yes, colonization, as displayed on The Great Wall of Los Angeles.

Students are taught about Spanish colonization throughout their education in California, especially in Los Angeles. Ask a student on campus, there is a good chance they have a memory of building a mission diorama or a field trip to the Mission San Fernando Rey de España. These teachings are mandatory through the California Department of Education as part of the history curriculum standards. Something that should not be taught, intentional or not, is the glamorization of those behind it. The disease and violence carried alongside their names and titles are not those of worth, especially when it comes to embodying Valley College.

A change in mascot name is not something new to schools in the San Fernando Valley. This year El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills moved on from their 52-year namesake, the Conquistador, to the less controversial Royals or Royales. The charter school requested the help of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians to better comprehend what this variation of Royals could mean for their programs in relation to Native American understanding. In 1998, Birmingham High School in Van Nuys voted to change their mascot after years of protest. The campus switched from the Braves to a more suitable name of the Patriots, despite the student body deciding upon Blue Devils to the dismay of the faculty, according to the LA Times.

Although Valley students of 1949 presumably had no ill-intention in their selection of the Monarch, students today deserve the same chance of selecting a better illustration of what the campus and student body represent.

Hypothetically, the Monarch is no longer, the school has plenty of potential options to replace it.

To start, the campus already has a costumed mascot, the Monarch Lion. While not a figure of royalty as the name suggests, the lion has been used as a mascot by many before, including an NFL franchise and comes without the stench that surrounds a colonial-era-inspired name. In fact, Valley’s Movita Juice Bar Express is already named “The Lion Cafe.”

Without changing the name at all, the aforementioned butterfly could also have the same effect in replacing the crown figure as a global symbol for rebirth and transformation.

Another suggestion could be the coyotes, who have inhabited the campus even before it was built, as previously reported by The Valley Star. A new name may even rise if students are given the chance to voice their opinions, choosing something that represents the resilient nature and the success students have found after attending one of the top community colleges in the United States, as listed in a 2021 ranking from Forbes.

Whether it is the lion, the monarch butterfly or a new mascot entirely, Valley has an opportunity to hold vigil for the nickname and announce the death of the Monarch.

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