Every year around this time, my university beats itself up over something that happened 30 years ago. It’s a well-deserved thrashing, and I hope they keep it up for many years to come. Here’s what happened (taken from the University Register, 10/13/2023).
Members of the wrestling team, dressed in white robes, burned a cross in a field outside of town, as a mock Ku Klux Klan meeting. Members claimed it was a “harmless Halloween prank among friends,” but the community did not see it that way. There was outrage at all ends for the insensitive, reckless, and above all, racist act.
Several members of the wrestling team drove two black teammates to an off-campus location, where other wrestlers pretended to be white supremacists by putting pillowcases over their heads. One of the black wrestlers ran away and called 911 for help.
I think it’s good to remember this stain on our reputation. I also have to highlight the incredible not-pology of the assistant wrestling coach, Frank Pelegri, who assisted in this travesty.
I have failed to be sensitive to the feelings of those persons outside of the prank who perceive a Halloween prank amongst friends as an act of racism.
That deserves to be enshrined in the ranks of world-class bad apologies. It was an act of racism, through and through.
Pelegri resigned after the incident, so at least there’s that.