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Student Section Theme Controversy

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Student Section Theme Controversy

Taylor Weis

Taylor Weis

Taylor Weis

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The Westside student section is known for their support of our sports teams. A major part of these sporting events are the themes that are picked for each game. Due to past events, certain themes have been viewed as racially offensive even though it may not be intentional. Westside Athletic Director Thomas Kerkman said that a lot of other schools, not just Westside, are cautious about doing themes such as blackout, whiteout, and USA.

“We just have to be sensitive to other school’s culture and diversity when we play a game and sometimes, when we have a theme, it might be offensive to some other schools,” Kerkman said.

Red Shield Leader Cedric Homan said that themes for football games are picked before the season begins. This would be before they are aware of who Westside is playing.

“[If we make] state final, we have blackout planned,” Homan said. “Say we play a predominantly black school, I had that preplanned I’m not choosing a theme to offend anyone. It just happened to be the theme.”

Kerkman said the Millard district had to ban the blackout theme because some of their students dressed inappropriately for the theme at the 2010 Nebraska state soccer finals, Lincoln East beat Omaha South. Lincoln East’s theme was USA and when the game was finished their students threw green cards on the field. Westside has not had to completely ban any themes because of such situations.

“We still do blackouts because our school colors are black and red, but we have to be careful when we choose to do it,” Kerkman said.

When asked if he thinks certain themes could be viewed as targeting a group of people, senior Nolan Miller-Johnston said he believes people are just too sensitive in today’s society.

“It’s all about our intentions,” Johnston said. “I feel like if we’re thinking about [a theme being offensive] then maybe that’s the reason why we’re doing it, but if we’re not then I think we’re fine.”

Another theme that Kerkman tries to avoid is college fraternity or ‘frat’.

“It depends how the theme is portrayed,” Kerkman said. “You don’t want to promote something that promotes drinking.”

Homan said if someone suggested a theme that could potentially be viewed as the student section targeting a certain group, he would not allow it.

“There’s nothing wrong with being cautious,” Homan said. “There’s always those people that think [dressing inappropriately is] funny when it’s just crossing the line. I guess there could always be a group of kids but I’d never think a whole student section would do that.”

Kerkman believes that the Westside student section would never intentionally offend a group of people.

“I think our kids here are really good about understanding [sensitivity] because nobody ever argues with me about those things and I think they understand that,” Kerkman said. “I feel pretty happy that our students are like that… The bottom line is we want [themes] to be fun but at the same time you have to be sensitive to the needs of others.”

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Laina Bayles, Managing Editor

Hi my name is Laina Bayles! I am a managing editor for Westside Wired this year. I am currently a senior and this is my second year on Wired. If you have...

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