Our view: Upholding the cowboy code

 


The University of Wyoming wasn’t likely expecting the criticism it received when it unveiled its new marketing slogan “The World Needs More Cowboys.”

The critical comments are coming from some faculty members who claim the slogan isn’t inclusive and supports a stereotypical image of a white man in blue jeans and wearing a cowboy hat. The university claims the slogan will be used with images that don’t associate with the commonly held image of the cowboy. We think it’s fair to let the university move forward with its slogan and their plans for using it. Should the university mismanage this campaign, then it should be criticized. However, the key piece this argument ignores is the fact the cowboy serves as the mascot for both the university and state.

Wyoming’s identity is forever tied to the cowboy and that image is still respected by Wyoming’s residents. Gene Autry’s Cowboy Code continues to be a set of ideals upon which people both associate with cowboys and attempt to live their lives by. To Wyoming residents, the cowboy embodies the spirit of hard work and fair play they want to see in the world. Criticism of the cowboy is akin to criticizing the values held by many Wyoming residents. That is the reason why it has become so controversial. Most people are not looking at the issue in regards to how or why the iconic image of the cowboy is problematic in 2018, but what the criticism means to the ideals that help define Wyoming and, by extension, the university.


The bigger question that should be asked is why the university agreed to pay $500,000 for a slogan already in use at another university. The university hired Victor and Spoils, a Colorado-based marketing firm to devise the slogan. That slogan also appears on the Oklahoma State University recruitment page. UW says it has permission from OSU to use the line as it isn’t their main marketing slogan, but the issue here is that it previously existed to this marketing campaign. Why pay half a million dollars to someone who appears to have lifted the slogan from another university? Is that the kind of work the university is willing to pay for?

One of the first things drilled into the minds of freshmen at any university is to not plagiarize others’ work. It’s a serious offense that can lead to expulsion. Yet, the university will pay for a slogan available to anyone with access to the internet. Even if the slogan was developed independently, it should have at least warranted discussion about a discount because the slogan already exists.


 

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