The Student Government Association of Florida State University, one of only a few NCAA schools allowed to use Native American mascots, voted in April to discourage headdresses at all athletic games on campus.
According to the FSView, one of the two student newspapers on campus, the resolution states that "[SGA] requests that the wearing of any Native American headdresses shall no longer be permitted into athletic arenas at FSU."
The SGA cannot officially ban such behaviors, as all resolutions are “formal expressions of the opinion or will of the Senate.” However, the resolution also formally asks the university to consider headdresses at athletic events be considered a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.
The resolution states that the opinion is based on the fact that headdresses do not accurately represent the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and that the “Seminole Tribe has expressed its distaste for this appropriation of culture.”
The FSView also quoted an anonymous former SGA member, who said the resolution is a “drastic overstep of authority”:
“I believe the intentions are genuine, and in the best interest in the Seminole Tribe of Florida, I have a great concern for the fact that this could impede on student’s first amendment rights. There’s nothing in national or state legislation that restricts an individuals right to restrict clothing or material, and I believe there are certain consequences associated with the bill that could impede on student’s first amendment rights and could introduce trouble for the university itself.”
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Adrienne Keene of Native Appropriations said, “Hopefully the 'tomahawk chop' is next, and/or the practice of physically painting a student brown/red to play Osceola ... But good progress nonetheless!”
The resolution passed 27 to four with five abstained. The official language of the resolution, as provided by FSView, is below.
WHEREAS: The Florida State University is responsible for cultivating and maintaining a strong relationship between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and this collegiate institution, and
WHEREAS: The Florida State University received the declaration of support from the Seminole Tribe in 2005 to use the Seminole name, logos and images, and
WHEREAS: The university seeks to ensure all images and actions used to depict the tribe are authentic and reflect what we value as an institution, and
WHEREAS: The university has agreed to not engage in any activity that does not have the approval of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and
WHEREAS: Florida State University fans are allowed to bring headdresses that do not depict the Seminole Tribe of Florida to athletic events, and
WHEREAS: The Seminole Tribe has expressed its distaste for this appropriation of culture, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SIXTY EIGHTH STUDENT SENATE AT THE FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY THAT:
The 68th Student Senate does not condone the wearing of headdresses because it inaccurately depicts the culture of the Seminole Tribe and we request that the wearing of headdresses no longer be permitted in any arena or FSU sanctioned event.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT:
The 68th Senate requests inappropriate use of the materials as listed above, constitute a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.
In 2005, the NCAA prohibited the use of Native American “mascots, nicknames and imagery.” A handful of schools, including Florida State University, successfully appealed to the NCAA to continue using their mascots based on tribal permission.
“I know the Seminole Tribe of Florida allows the use of the mascot,” said Keene in the aforementioned Facebook post. “It doesn't make these practices around the mascot any less racist.”