Discourse / Letters / January 15, 2015

Uphold the ‘old’ tradition

In your story on our efforts to bring back Siwash as co-nickname for Knox you totally ignored that fact that there are at least 5 meanings for the word “Siwash” and that only one of those meanings is ever used in a pejorative way.

Our definition of the word as it has been used historically at Knox has always been “any small provincial college” (often preceded by “old”) [Random House Dictionary]. That meaning was used by George Fitch (Knox 1897) in a very positive and loving way in his stories of the light-hearted adventures of students at his mythical “Siwash College” which he modeled after his alma mater, Knox.

If one of the other five or more meanings of the word is sometimes used as a pejorative, does it help us to drop our non-pejorative use of the name? Will one less person use the negative definition because we dropped a very positive one?

If we throw out over 70 years of great Siwash tradition, what do we gain? Then there is one less good meaning for the word, and still the bad meaning stands. When that happens, there are no winners except for those who occasionally misuse another meaning of the word and those who fanatically pursue the ever-divisive policies of political correctness.

By Peter Collinson (Knox ‘62)

TKS Staff

Tags:  George Fitch knox prairie fire political correctness siwash tradition

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