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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

OPINION: We Will Not Grow a Pair

Grow a pair.

It’s a phrase people are seeing more on campus this year after it was adopted as a new slogan for the athletics department. But was it the right way to represent the students of Western?

Western is far from the university people imagine — there are no fraternities or sororities, no football team and recycling is actually promoted. So Western having a slogan that is so skewed toward the stereotypical macho mentality is odd to say the least.

The slogan is funny when used to describe growing a pair of viking horns–just the kind of crude humor lots of students thrive on–and the horn theme has been in previous slogans like “Fear the Horns.”

However, there’s a twist of discomfort that comes with this new slogan as well, and it’s a twist a lot of students have already come forward to address.

Director of Athletics Steve Card met with numerous students and groups who voiced their feelings that the slogan was insensitive and should not be used to represent Western.

It was a new experience, as the marketing group in charge of creating the annual slogans have never prompted such a negative response. But this year, even after only a few weeks of class, there’s been a large, negative response.

Card said this is why the decision was recently made to discontinue printing the slogan on athletic calendars, shirts and hats. The department will now be brainstorming what to do in place of the defunct phrase.

This was a perfect way for the athletic department to respond to the situation.

Western is a campus of diversity and self-expression, it’s what students have come to expect from the university. Whether people think the phrase is funny or not, it does not adequately represent the student population.

Previous phrases gave the impression that Western is a collective, a group of students who all unite under our school pride. But “Grow a Pair,” has a blatant male-directed tone that doesn’t convey the spirit of the campus as a whole.

This has been recognized and addressed by officials in charge of the project.

While Card said the phrase was not meant to offend, the unfortunate truth is that it did. But the fact that steps have been taken to acknowledge and rectify that mishap show that the athletic department really does care about how the students feel.

Hopefully, the department will create a new slogan to take center stage this year, and make it one that will uphold the inclusivity and diversity Western is known for.

After all, it says in Western’s own mission statement that the university will strive for “bringing together individuals of diverse backgrounds and perspectives in an inclusive, student-centered university.”

If nothing else, this serves as a valuable lesson for discerning what it is that Western is all about, and it is not about “growing a pair.”

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