Orange Fizz


SU Students Counter Westboro Baptist Tonight, Learning from PSU Mistakes

The Westboro Baptist Church, infamous for its picketing during homosexual soldiers’ funerals, says it will protest tonight’s Syracuse game against Florida.¬†The church plans to protest against the school with the message “God Hates Raping Coaches.”¬†Given how provocative the Church’s protests have been in the past, Syracuse students are both confused and enraged this group is targeting campus as grounds for demonstration.
Freshman engineering major Matt Stocker believes the church is out of line:

“It’s a little ridiculous that they are coming in here and making a scene in Syracuse. They really don’t have a right to judge how our school handles a situation like that.”

Even if Westboro Baptist doesn’t have the right to judge how SU has handled the Fine scandal, the rest of the country will form opinions on how Syracuse students respond to WBC’s demonstration. Penn State’s student body was roundly criticized for its night of unrest following Joe Paterno’s dismissal.¬†Tucker Warner is a freshman broadcast journalism major, and has spearheaded a counter-effort via a Facebook group called “Syracuse Students Protest Westboro Hate.” ¬†From the group’s page:
“The most important thing to remember is DO NOT, under any circumstances, resort to violence. Don’t even touch them. (The exception is if they’ve started physically attacking you or something, but they won’t do that. So there’s no excuses.) It’s also best to just not try to argue or reason with them.¬†Our protest will be humor-based. Make other people laugh, make fun of the WBC, other good stuff.”
Warner wants the response demonstration to send a concrete message without tarnishing the image of the student body.
“I think that the best way to send our message to the WBC is to speak against their statements without bringing up the current controversy that surrounds Bernie Fine, and to a certain extent, Jim Boeheim.”
They’ve also instructed participants not to use any signs that defend Fine or Boeheim, looking to avoid the spectacle of Penn State students holding “We love JoePa” signs. However, at a school of roughly 15,000 students, Warner realizes there will be varied reactions from different groups of students – some more aggressive than others.
“In a way, I’m afraid. I think that some students acting out aggressively and tarnishing the reputation of Syracuse is a worst-case scenario. But as a de facto leader of this counter-protest, I have to prepare for the worst to happen, just in case, no matter how unlikely it is. From what I’ve seen and heard from other members so far, although there is a lot of animosity toward the WBC, it seems to be controlled, mature, and non-violent. I certainly hope that it stays that way on Friday.”
Rachel Dobbs, another freshman, agrees with Warner’s logic:

‚ÄúI think the whole rioting thing is not the best way to go.¬†¬†I think peaceful protests really bring out the best in the student body.¬†¬†You know, make us look smarter and not as violent.”

While the university’s brain trust has certainly learned lessons from how Penn State dealt with its scandal, SU students are doing the same. Unfortunately, the baggage that comes with the Fine allegations continues to bring unwanted attention to the Orange off the basketball court.


Posted: Jake Moskowitz 


The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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