Perhaps it didn’t have anything to do with the cancel culture lunacy that appears in vogue among a partisan class of socialist ideologues who have scant appreciation for the actual history of our republic, but the timing is certainly curious.
Exactly why Black Hills State University would deem it necessary in 2021 to replace a venerable identifying logo (having endured for decades) with a new digital symbol is a mystery.
Sour grapes, possibly? Well, it is true that the traditional BH footprint dating to the early 1960s was largely the product of professor Ron Phillips and his coalition of journalism students including yours truly. Both the Eociha (I was editor of two editions) and the Anemone (which included articles detailing the creation of the college logo) repeatedly earned state and national recognition.
Our sense back then was that the brand should be simple, easily and immediately recognizable, and representative not just of the institution itself but rather of the Black Hills (holding a natural appeal for students and visitors) in its entirety — hence the emphasis on symbols representing trees and mountains (offering an opportunity to ascend to new heights, if you will).
Page 12 of the spring 2021 alumni magazine explains that “as communication methods have changed (for the better?) through the years ... students first see BHSU in a digital space ... viewing our web page, reading emails or seeing our social media.” OK, that analysis certainly fits the trend. No doubt other colleges and universities would echo similar sentiments.
But, on the same page is a sentence that reads as follows: One student expressed their understanding and appreciation of the logo.” Whoops! The plural pronoun “their” doesn’t agree with its singular antecedent “student,” constituting a shift in number; hence, “their” should be changed to “his” or “her” depending on the gender of the person (assuming that one’s sex is determinable nowadays).
Of course, education in 2021 is only a distant cousin to that which prevailed in days of yore. Reading, writing and arithmetic (a curricular focus in ancestral country schools) were keys to developing responsible citizens — complemented by learning history the old-fashioned way, by applying grammatical standards pertaining to English usage (diagramming sentences was paramount), and by studying great works of literature.
Youngsters could read at appropriate age and grade levels, grasped the significance of our founding documents including the constitution, and were well versed in the rights and duties of citizenship. They were not distracted by an unlimited supply of electronic baby sitters, didn’t face the frustration of having to figure out which bathroom was whose, and could tell the difference between students and teachers according to dress (and mode of transportation?).
Indeed, the contrast between then and now is stark. Moreover, politics was largely absent — save for occasional (PTA?) concerns that were resolved sans riots. Federal government mandates were few, which meant that curriculums were not overburdened with obligatory nonrational intrusions like “No Child Left Behind, Climate Change, Critical Race Theory, Common Core,” etc.
Which helps in understanding American education’s regression to a pitiful ranking versus other industrialized nations — near the bottom in math (26th out of 34), only marginally better in science (21st), and slightly less pathetic in reading (17th), for example. Lest anyone assume those figures are contrived, they’re per PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) and OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development).
Yes, society would be better served if educational institutions at all levels would model a renewed focus back to basics ... and if misguided pinheads baited into the asinine cancel culture mentality would instead direct their efforts toward positive ends. Maybe current scholars and contemporary alums would even come to recognize historic figures in pictures placed before them!