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Fans of the number 5-ranked Gonzaga University basketball team have been asked to stop yelling "Brokeback Mountain" at opposing players. The reference to the recent movie about gay ranch hands was chanted by some fans during Monday's game against Saint Mary's, and is apparently intended to suggest an opposing player is gay.
The chants were the subject of several classroom discussions at the Catholic university over the past week, and the faculty advisers for the Kennel Club booster group urged students this week to avoid "inappropriate chants" during the Bulldogs' Saturday game against Stanford, which was nationally televised on ESPN. "We implore the students of the Kennel Club to show the nation this weekend what makes Gonzaga different," Kennel Club advisers David Lindsay and Aaron Hill wrote in a letter in the student newspaper, the Bulletin. "We challenge the students of the Kennel Club to exhibit the class, the creativeness, and the competitive drive that has become a foundation of this great university."
Mark Alfino, a professor of philosophy at Gonzaga, said the matter had been widely discussed by faculty and students. "Many faculty members have brought up the discussion in their classes," he said. "They find none of the students have been comfortable with the chant, and that's a good sign."
Ryan Olson, president of Helping Educate Regarding Orientation, a gay-straight alliance on campus, said the chants are just the latest incident that shows GU is struggling to make gays and lesbians welcome on campus. In a letter to the Bulletin, the HERO membership wrote, "This is not even remotely the first time that Kennel Club chanters have chanted homophobic phrases at basketball games." Said Olson: "A lot of people in the Kennel Club say it wasn't them" who chanted "Brokeback Mountain," adding, however, "But there's something to be said about apathy as well. Students didn't stop people from saying it."
In Friday's Bulletin, senior Callie Monroe wrote a column calling the chants a case of "outright discrimination." "Imagine yourself as a homosexual individual in the midst of your peers, classmates, and friends during this 'Brokeback Mountain' cheer," Monroe wrote. "I simply do not understand how a student body claiming to live by Jesuit principles of acceptance and respect for all can allow an incident like this to happen and remain silent." (AP)