By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer
Not everyone is thrilled with the prospect of a pair of live greyhounds serving as mascots at Eastern New Mexico University.
One group on campus is questioning the expense of caring for the dogs, potential liability and the psychological adjustment the dogs must make.
But university President Steve Gamble said officials are comfortable with the responsibility.
ENMU announced in mid-October that it was getting a pair of greyhounds to be official mascots and serve as good-will ambassadors.
Archeology graduate student Charlie Chaparro, who represents graduate students in the student senate, questioned how the dogs would be paid for over the years.
The ENMU Foundation and the Bench Club have donated $3,000 toward start-up costs.
“Three thousand dollars will only go so far,” Chaparro said.
He questioned the amount of money creating a habitable place for the dogs would take. Chaparro said it seems like the finances hadn’t been thought out past the current donations.
Also, Chaparro said the foundation provides scholarships, noting budgets are being cut across campus.
“I guess we’re kind of concerned that action like this indicates the university has money for dogs but not issues related directly to campus life,” he said.
Gamble said while all the details haven’t been worked out, he is confident the university can afford the dogs.
“We’re talking about an extremely small amount of money,” he said.
Gamble expects the ENMU Foundation and Alumni Association to continue donating money for the greyhounds. Most, if not all of the money, will come from outside sources, Gamble said.
Chaparro also wonders about liability issues if one of the dogs happen to bite someone.
Gamble said the university would be liable if a mascot hurt someone, but the same was true if someone fell on campus. He isn’t worried.
“There’s liability in everything you do in life, especially if you’re a public institution,” Gamble said.
In addition, Chaparro questioned whether the greyhounds will be able to form social connections because they would be handled by many people for short periods of time.
New Mexico Greyhound Connection President Candy Beck, who is working with ENMU to provide the dogs, said the greyhounds are used to being handled by a lot of people and don’t care if the people are different.
“They don’t need just one person for their entire life,” she said.
For another concern, Chaparro said it seemed like the decision on the greyhounds was made by a small group of people who didn’t ask for another perspective.
“We think that the dialogue hasn’t really been inclusive of all the diverse ideas that are on campus,” he said.
Chaparro said his group understood the decision was made. But he wants to see more transparency on decisions and more information about the dogs, their living arrangements and the process of getting them.
Gamble said a committee of students, faculty and staff worked to get the greyhounds. The university held two public hearings about the dogs Thursday, and the issue was presented at the general faculty meeting Friday and at the most recent student senate meeting.
The vast majority of the ENMU community seem to be in favor of live mascots, with a vocal minority disagreeing, Gamble said.
“I really truly do believe they’re doing what they think it best,” he said of the people opposed to getting mascots. “However, the flip side of this is we’re convinced this is the right thing to do.”