THERMAL, Calif. - It could be some time until a resolution or any changes or made to the Coachella Valley high school mascot, the Arabs. A member of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee paid a visit to Southern California from the group's headquarters in Washington D.C. The ADC and Coachella Valley Unified School District agreed to the process of making changes, but no decisions were made.
Abed Ayoub, the legal and policy affairs director for the ADC met with the school board, Coachella mayor Eduardo Garcia and also took a tour of the high school's campus, meeting with students and teachers. "From the beginning, our hope and our objective was to find a logo or find something that gets rid of stereotypes," said Ayoub at a news conference at Coachella city hall.
Ayoub was careful not to address specific issues in the process, rather saying he's looking forward to an ongoing dialogue about how to respect the Arab culture as well as respecting the history of the high school. "They can give us different customs and different things they do, so we can honor them the right way," said senior class president Chrystabelle Ramirez. "As well as they can learn about why we are the Arabs."
"Their pride in their school and in their history, that supersedes any logo, any image or anything you can paint on a wall," said Ayoub.
Pride aside, the logo's still the ADC's biggest gripe. Ayoub said he would prefer the original man on a horse logo from the 30s, over the current one he calls stereotypical. But, not everyone's ready to change the current look. "This logo to us expresses the emotion of fierceness, of pride, of strength," said David Hinkle, a CVHS 1961 alumni.
HInkle's not alone. More than 2800 people belong to a Facebook group called "Save the Coachella Valley High School Arab Mascot." Many who say they're not ready to accommodate the ADC even after a visit from Ayoub. "No specifics, no telling us what would be acceptable and what wouldn't," said Hinkle. "I don't think this is going to change anyone's mind on the subject," said Hinkle.
A special committee hopes to present a recommendation to the school board by the holiday break.