The Gender Justice Commission of CU is taking a stand for inclusion today, Oct. 21, at the Homecoming Parade on Pearl Street.
Bill McCartney, a former CU football coach, is the grand marshal for the parade, and has been criticized in the past for his remarks against homosexuality.
Erika Munter, a 21-year-old senior sociology and women’s studies major is also a part of the Gender Justice Commission (GJC). She said that her organization is not protesting the parade, but rather showing its support of all minority communities.
“This is not an actual protest, it is a stand for inclusion,” Munter said. “We’re not protesting Bill McCartney. We just really wanted to march for inclusion of different identities.”
Munter did say that the GJC is aware of a number of examples of hateful and offensive remarks made by McCartney in the past, specifically directed toward women and people in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (GLBTQ) community.
McCartney is most widely criticized for a speech made in 1992, in which he referred to homosexuality as “an abomination against almighty God.”
Brooks Kanski, vice president of external affairs for CU Student Government and a senior majoring in economics, said that he was unsure whether members of the homecoming committee were fully aware of the controversy surrounding McCartney.
“Bill McCartney was selected as grand marshal solely because of his position as the national championship football coach in 1990,” Kanski said. “It was an attempt by the homecoming committee to really resurrect school spirit, and bring a sense of strong football spirit to the Homecoming week.”
Kanski said that McCartney’s statements did not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the student government or the homecoming committee, and that it was not the intention of the committee to offend anyone in the GLBTQ community.
“We totally appreciate their stance on this, and we feel terrible that this has surfaced the way that it has,” Kanski said. “We are strongly inclusive of all communities here at CU. We sympathize with them and understand their stance, however we want students to remember that it is in light of the football and homecoming traditions of CU that Bill McCartney was chosen as the grand marshal for the parade.”
Kanski also emphasized that the homecoming committee and CUSG fully support the GJC marching in the parade.
Members of the GJC plan to march in the parade near McCartney’s float, wearing the color purple and carrying signs that support equality.
“We need to send a strong message that different communities are welcomed on the CU campus,” Munter said. “We want to show that minority communities and people of all identities are respected and included.”
Both Kanski and Munter agreed that the CU student body is generally supportive of the GLBTQ community.
“CU is the size of a town, and in any town there will be some issues,” Munter said. “I think overall that CU is pretty good about being inclusive for different communities, but there are always ways to improve and ways to continue moving forward.”
Corey Wiggins, 21, a senior majoring in political science and secondary education, plans to march for inclusion. At the march he will be representing both the GJC and the Center for multicultural affairs, where he is a peer mentor.
“I oppose McCarthy being the grand marshal because I believe that the opinions he has expressed while representing the campus have been oppressive to many identities that are a part of our CU community,” Wiggins said in an email. “The message that is sent is one that does not value the safety and experience of all identities on campus.”
Other students at CU had mixed feelings about whether or not the former football coach was a good choice for grand marshal.
Simon Steffan, a 21-year-old senior geography major, said that the decision to have McCartney as grand marshal is controversial.
“I understand why he was chosen, he’s a big name at CU and he means a lot to our history, especially with the football championship,” Steffan said. “But it might not be right to choose him when he speaks openly against homosexuality, because that doesn’t represent us.”
Steffan said that he was supportive of the march for inclusion.
“You gotta fight for your right,” Steffan said. “Nobody is going to know that there is an issue unless you get out there and stand up against it. [McCartney] isn’t going to stop saying what he’s saying if you don’t fight it.”
Those who are participating in the march for inclusion hope that their efforts will help minimize hate speech and raise awareness.
“Homecoming is a great chance to showcase that we accept everyone who is a part of our community,” Wiggins said. “That is what we intend to do by marching in support of GLBTQ and gender equality. In the future, I hope the homecoming committee will make sure they do the research necessary to ensure they are not alienating anyone in the CU Buff family.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Hadley Vandiver at Hadley.firstname.lastname@example.org.