University of Iowa's pink visitors' locker room causes uproar
October 01 2005 12:00 AM ET
After decades of
relative anonymity, the flamboyant pink visitors’
locker room at the University of Iowa’s Kinnick
Stadium is making some on the campus, located in Iowa
City, see red.
A raucous debate about the color
scheme—which covers the showers, carpeting, and
lockers—intensified this week as critics declared the
decor demeaning to gays and women. They are demanding that
it be removed. The visitors' locker room was first
painted pink in the 1980s at the behest
of legendary Iowa coach Hayden Fry. He believed the
color had the effect of making visiting football
teams more passive.
Many students and faculty members became aware
of the paint job only recently, during the
National Collegiate Athletic Association's
certification study of the school's athletics this year. The
NCAA is investigating gender equity at the University
of Iowa, among other matters. “I want the
locker room gone,” law school professor Jill
Gaulding told the certification committee. “One
solution to reducing stereotypes, especially negative
ones, is to not have them around.”
Visiting law school professor Erin Buzuvis was
also a vocal critic of the locker room’s color,
saying pink is associated with young girls and
that its use in a football locker room is sexist and
homophobic. “It is equivalent to painting the
word ‘sissy’ or ‘girlie man’ all
across the walls,” she said. When she
voiced those opinions on her Web site, Buzuvis claims,
she received death threats.
president David Skorton condemned those threats. “I
am asking the Office of the General Counsel, the
Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, and the
Department of Public Safety to review these threats
and to take appropriate actions based on their findings," he
said in a statement.
Steve Parrott, university spokesman, said he
believed it was reverence toward Fry rather than
blatant homophobia or sexism that caused such
vitriolic reaction to Buzuvis’s opinion. “This
is something reasonable people can disagree on, but
let’s keep it civil and fair,” he said.
Parrott said a final decision would be made on the locker
room once the committee finishes their compliance
study early next year. (Neal Broverman, Advocate.com)
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