Beyond the Burg: U.Va. minority groups start campaign on campus

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December 1, 2007

2:37 PM

__Student minority groups on campus start campaign to change cheer__

p. Controversy has arisen at the University of Virginia over the modified lyrics of “Good Old Song,” shouted by students and fans at football games. Rather than singing the written lyric “we come from old Virginia, where all is bright and gay,” many students and fans sing “where all is bright and not gay” instead.

p. This semester, students of the university have led a campaign against the practice, urging their fellow Cavaliers to consider the seriousness of their actions. At the Nov. 3 football game, stickers with the correct lyrics and letters of explanation were distributed to the fans. “We ask that you not only not say ‘not gay’ but hold your peers to the same standard. If you hear it, remind them why it is not acceptable,” the letter read.

p. Stephen Leonelli, president of the Queer and Allied Activism group at U.Va., believes that the practice promotes a negative attitude toward the gay community at the university.

p. “Essentially, we believe that it marginalizes the gay community by creating an environment in which certain people who may or may not identify as gay do not feel welcome,” he said.

p. Student Council President Lauren Tilton felt that people were not considering the impact of their actions on the university environment as a whole.

p. “We took it as an educational campaign, to remind people that when you say this it actually hurts people in our community,” she said.

p. The campaign has prompted students to write editorial pieces both defending and criticizing the practice in the Cavalier Daily, U.Va.’s student newspaper. Alex Cortes, a freshman, wrote the piece “Not gay and proud of it” for the newspaper. While many have written off the “not gay” shouts as stemming from homophobia or drunkenness, Cortes personally denied both.

p. “When I’m saying I’m not gay, I’m asserting basically that I’m heterosexual. I have felt uncomfortable saying the ‘not gay’ chant because of the stares and criticisms I receive,” he wrote. “Despite this discomfort, I will continue [because] political correctness, a weakening morality and lack of courage are suffocating our once-great nation.”

p. An editorial from the Oct. 15 issue of the Cavalier Daily criticized the practice, calling the “Not gay” chant “Not ok.”

p. “For many viewers watching the games from home, their only exposure to the university are the several times each game when insecure fans shriek how ‘not gay’ they are,” it said. “The university’s inability to curtail the chant tarnishes its reputation. And rightfully so.”

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