What it means to be a San Francisco DON

Have you ever wondered why our mascot looks a lot like Zorro? There is no doubt you want to know the story behind the masked, mustached man. Whether you are new to USF or you have always wondered why we call ourselves the
Dons, you are about to find out the meaning behind the mascot.

If you walk into War Memorial Gym, you might notice two metallic men standing back to back atop a wooden box. The men are masked and hatted. Their swords are drawn. They appear to be defending one another, fending off forces of injustice, standing up for what is noble and good.

Indeed, stuck to the side of the box on top of which the masked men stand, a green and gold plaque explains who these men are and why they represent all students, faculty, and staff at the University of San Francisco.

The plaque reads, “The Don was a Spanish title given only to a noble person. The word in Spanish is actually an abbreviation of De Origen Noble (DON), which means ‘of noble origin.’ All USF students and Alumni are of noble origin who share in a long tradition for a passion for learning so that we may better understand the past, clarify the present, and anticipate the future. Thus, we proudly call ourselves the DONS!”

Like the plaque and statue suggests, we Dons are expected to stand together and fight against the world’s injustices. By coming to USF, we have accepted the challenge to boldly face the world’s issues and be a force of positive change. Like our motto suggests, we must “change the world from here.” Just as the metallic men stand together and fight for justice, we USF Dons are expected to do the same, whether on the court, in the classroom, or in the real world.

So next time you see our grinning, big-headed mascot—or any other fellow USF Don for that matter—remember you are united in your obligation make the world a better place. Only when we stand together and fight can we truly earn our title as proud and noble Dons.


One thought on “What it means to be a San Francisco DON

  1. The “don” is a reminder of the legacies of colonialism. The title “don” was used to enforce classism, not to mention gender.

    While some dons may have fought for social justice, a majority of them only protected the inherited rights of their nobility.

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