University of Colorado faculty leaders may consider whether the use of black face paint at sporting events is school spirit or racially insensitive and reminiscent of "blackface" costumes.
The Boulder Faculty Assembly's diversity committee has raised the concern that, on multiple occasions, "blackface" costumes have been displayed at sporting events and on Pearl Street during Halloween.
But students who have worn black body paint to past football games say they're simply showing school spirit and supporting the Buffs, whose colors are black and gold.
Members of the Boulder Faculty Assembly received notification Thursday of a resolution, still in its draft stage, that calls on the campus community to "vigorously address" the unacceptable behavior. The assembly is scheduled to discuss the measure at a meeting next month.
The blackface minstrel acts, and their racist depictions of blacks, were a form of entertainment in 19th-century theater.
Boulder Faculty Assembly Chairman Joseph Rosse, a business professor, said faculty leaders are expecting to hear more context from the diversity committee on the issue at the assembly's next meeting. The draft of the resolution says CU values a diverse and inclusive campus.
In a preliminary discussion Thursday, faculty members indicated they'll be raising issues about fan behavior in general after CU students used profane language at the Kansas basketball game last month; discussing free speech issues; and exploring ways the school can condemn racially insensitive behavior.
Faculty representative Marty Walter, a math professor, said there needs to be a balance of respecting others' feelings and allowing students to exercise free speech rights.
While the draft of the faculty resolution cites no specific incidents, dozens of students have worn face paint to football and basketball games.
CU junior Chris Scully, a chemical engineering junior, and a group of his friends painted their faces and bodies black and wore blue and pink wigs to the CU-Georgia game in October.
Buffs fans, via Facebook, declared the game a "blackout," encouraging those supporting CU to wear black and show a unified front for the night game at Folsom Field.
"We were not doing it to be racially insensitive," Scully said. "We wanted to have fun and support the school."
His friend Mark Hinaman, a mechanical engineering junior, said he typically outfits himself in black-and-gold Buffs apparel for home games. He said it's ridiculous if their fanfare has been misinterpreted as racially insensitive.
"I would classify it as school spirit, and I think everyone else would, too," Hinaman said. "We all thought it was a blast, and we got a lot of positive vibes from everyone who we interacted with."
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