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Why the Artichoke?

Last Updated: Oct 19, 2009  |  162 Views
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The following article was printed in the CAMPUS NEWS on Monday,
November 10, 1980

"It's, funny, cute, a mockery".

"It's different."

So go the remarks about SCC's mascot, the artichoke.

Most students on campus are vaguely aware that the artichoke exists today because of some
protest by students long since departed.

As a public service to those students, the legend of the artichoke is printed here.

Ten years ago a new community college opened to serve the needs of the growing valley. A plot of land on the Salt River Indian reservation was leased for 99 years.

The year was 1970, a new decade born of the student protests and campus turmoil of the 60s. The times they were a changin', and this school would be different.

It was written into the constitution of the school that the students who attended here would have a voice.

They would make their own decisions. Above all they would spend their money the way they saw fit.

Colleges are known for many things-books and studies, busy halls and youthful pranks. But for some the most important thing in college are the teams that carry the school's colors into athletic action every year.

These people looked at SCC and saw the future written on the white chalked grid of a football field and the packed gym of a basketball game. So things were not so well on Scottsdale's campus.

Students and the government elected to represent them felt athletics should be low on the budget list, below things needed by all students such as books for the library, a day-care center for parents pursuing their education and scholarships for local residents.

Student government allotted 11 scholarships for the Indians on whose land the campus stood. The administration of that day had other ideas.

It felt the scholarships could be put to better use by luring out of state athletes.

So was born the artichoke movement.

When student government protested the decision to divert money to out-of-state students it was effectively stripped of power. The constitution was rewritten and the majority of students at SCC felt they had been sold down the river by yet another establishment false promise.

The sight of the ancient portables sitting across the campus from the new 1.7 million dollar gym was a hard fact to swallow for those students not actively involved with athletics.

In fact, a survey conducted in 1972 placed athletics at the bottom of a student priorities list.

The administration, while hearing the vague footsteps of dissension, went ahead with plans for making SCC a national junior college athletic power.

It asked an infuriated student government to run an election to name a mascot.

The senate reacted by giving the students three choices, the Artichoke, the Rutabaga, or the Scoundrels. As is history now, the election was won by our Artichoke.

The shocked administration declared the election null and void, since, it explained, only 11% of the school's population had participated.

Although this was about average for a student election, it was back to the drawing board for a mascot.

At about this time a group of "semi-athletes", as the school paper called them, formed a group called Concerned Students. They attempted to name the mascot "Drovers" and ran their own candidates in the next election. That election was a highly emotional affair, bringing a record number of voters to the polls. The Artichoke, running against the Drover, won again, gathering over 70% of the vote. Administrators had little choice but to let the verdict stand.

The politically-oriented athletes disbanded, but the ax of dissension had split the school into two factions.

Battles raged between the artichokes, as students giving priority to academic life called themselves, and the pro-athletic forces for the next six years.

Attempted impeachments on both sides failed. Name-calling, bickering and accusations abounded on campus.

Student government, year after year, remained in the hands of students unsympathetic to the expense of the athletic program.

In what could be looked at as a kind of victory for the artichoke movement, a campus nursery was finally opened. The Performing Arts Center was completed and an outstanding program of guest speakers and entertainment activities was sponsored by student government.

There is yet to appear on campus the football stadium many students feared would be built as early as 1972 at the sacrifice of academic buildings.

Yet SCC's football team has managed to scale the lofty heights of national press rankings, a fact due more likely to good coaching and smart recruiting than to the use of an inflated athletic budget.

Few hard feelings remain on the campus.

This semester, for the first time in anyone's memory, the athletic directors and student government officers have sat down at the same table and discussed activities for celebration 10.

Today the artichoke has become synonymous with SCC. For the majority of students entering SCC today it is but a strange quirk to an otherwise normal school.

Student government is aware of its heritage and, like a sacred duty, jealously watches the budget and the direction in which the money flows.

Through it all the artichoke has remained. It is a tiny thorn in the side of the athletic department, a symbol for students active in educational life and an amusing mascot to those students who pass through here on their way to other places.

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