Daily Egyptian

SIU Athletics bans displays of activism to “put forward a message of unity,” one cheerleader returns following 2017 protests

Sophomore radio, television and digital media major Czarina Tinker, of Nashville, Tennessee, left, and sophomore psychology major Ariahn Hunt, of Chicago, far right, kneel during the national anthem Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, before the Salukis' matchup against the University of Northern Iowa Panthers at Saluki Stadium. President Donald Trump publicly criticized NFL athletes who kneel during the National Anthem to protest police brutality last week. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

Sophomore radio, television and digital media major Czarina Tinker, of Nashville, Tennessee, left, and sophomore psychology major Ariahn Hunt, of Chicago, far right, kneel during the national anthem Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, before the Salukis' matchup against the University of Northern Iowa Panthers at Saluki Stadium. President Donald Trump publicly criticized NFL athletes who kneel during the National Anthem to protest police brutality last week. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz

Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz

Sophomore radio, television and digital media major Czarina Tinker, of Nashville, Tennessee, left, and sophomore psychology major Ariahn Hunt, of Chicago, far right, kneel during the national anthem Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, before the Salukis' matchup against the University of Northern Iowa Panthers at Saluki Stadium. President Donald Trump publicly criticized NFL athletes who kneel during the National Anthem to protest police brutality last week. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

By Brian Munoz, Staff Reporter

Two of the three Southern Illinois University cheerleaders who protested during the national anthem last fall will not be returning to the squad this season.

Czarina Tinker, from Nashville, Tennessee, Ariahn Hunt and Alaysia Brandy, both from Chicago, took a knee during the national anthem during various sporting events last academic year.

Brandy is the only returning cheerleader from the three, according to a roster provided to the Daily Egyptian by SIU Carbondale Intercollegiate Athletics.

Hunt and Tinker did not return various requests for commentary. Tinker is not currently enrolled at the university, according to the SIU Registrar’s Office.

SIU Athletics administration has also added new language to the Code of Conduct policy that states any displays of activism will not be tolerated and could lead to the individual’s removal from their respective program.

“It is a privilege and not a right to be a student-athlete, cheerleader or spirit member at Southern Illinois University,” according to the addition provided by Liz Jarnigan, SIU Athletics senior woman administrator.

“Members of the department including student athletes cheerleaders and spirit members must remain neutral on any issue political in nature when wearing SIU official uniforms and when competing/performing in official department of athletics events and activities,” according to the addition provided to the Daily Egyptian. “Any display (verbal or non-verbal) of activism (either for or against) a political issue will not be tolerated and may result in dismissal from the program.”

Jarnigan, a recent hire by acting athletic director Jerry Kill, is replacing Kathy Jones in the role after Jones retired last December. Jarnigan previously served in similar roles at the Air Force Academy and at San Jose State.

“We are just not wanting anybody who represents the department of athletics and wears the colors to get involved in heated discourse on one side or the other,” Jarnigan said. “It’s not the appropriate place and we are not wanting to make political statements of any kind when were representing the university, the Department of Athletics, any academic institution and southern Illinois in general.”

Jarnigan said the addition to the Code of Conduct is to move a message of unity forward.

“We have this policy because were wanting to put forward a message of unity and by taking sides or offending one side or the other… that’s not what we believe [is our] purpose,” Jarnigan said.

Brandy said she will no longer be taking a knee during the anthem and her decision to do so was made before the changes from the administration.

“It was already decided upon to not take a knee again because we accomplished what we were going for by bringing attention to our cause and now it’s time for change,” Brandy said. “America, as a country, is very reactive instead of proactive and that needs to change.”

Brandy said there needs to be reform in the way officers are trained.

“Background checks on said police officers and when it does come down to them breaking the law and abusing their power they need to be held accountable to the fullest to show other officers you can’t get away with crime, that you can’t hide behind a badge,” Brandy said. “It’s time for change.”

Three weeks after the protests began last October, the three cheerleaders were hidden from the public eye during the national anthem in a game-day procedure change designed to “enhance the game day experience,” according to university administration and athletics.

Administration moved the cheerleaders from a prominent spot on the sideline during pregame football ceremonies to the Saluki Stadium concourse.

When the cheerleaders first kneeled during the anthem on Sept. 30 of last year, SIU Chancellor Carlo Montemagno reassured former SIU President Randy Dunn there would be no change in protocol and he would allow the cheerleaders to demonstrate.

“Members of the university’s senior staff, including legal counsel, researched and discussed several options in looking at balancing the students’ First Amendment rights and freedom of speech, the multi-faceted public relations impact the issue has created,” Montemagno said to Dunn in an Oct. 13, 2017 email. “The bottom line is there are not going to be any changes to game day procedures. All cheerleaders will be on the field during the National Anthem as has been tradition.”

See more: Taking a stand on one knee

Later that month, the cheerleaders were removed from pre-game ceremonies during volleyball games. Kelsey Baden, the Spirit Squad coach who oversees the cheerleaders, shakers and mascot, said it was because the squad was late to the games.

Brandy disputed the cheerleaders were late, saying they arrived at the Salukis’ volleyball matchup against Illinois State at least 30 minutes before the commencement of the game.

Baden resigned from her position at the SIUC Spirit Squad coach early last summer to take a position as the cheer coordinator at Lamar University, a doctoral/research university in Beaumont, Texas.

Daniel Snow, owner of Snow Power Gymnastics and Dance in Herrin, was named the new coach after Baden’s resignation.

“We know that the protocol was officially put into place at basketball [but] we feel as though we were strategically not put out during the anthem at volleyball games,” Brandy said.

The cheerleaders were furthermore removed from courtside from all home basketball games and brought out after the anthem.

During a Nov. 27 basketball game against SIU Edwardsville, a Daily Egyptian staff photographer was stopped from photographing the three cheerleaders protesting in the confines of the backstage area by Thomas Weber, SIU Athletic Communications Director.

“We had an issue prior to game tonight,” a text message to Montemagno  on Dec. 7 said. “We have photographers from DE doing all they could to get pictures tonight of cheerleaders. Just a heads up. Meeting with coach tomorrow because squad is not following directions and [Baden] is not following up with them to ensure procedures.”

SIU Chancellor Carlo Montemagno released a statement after the Oct. 14 homecoming football game saying he supported the cheerleaders’ right to protest.

“The two symbols that are the focus of these peaceful protests stand for one of our most important constitutional rights: freedom of speech,” Montemagno said. “We may not agree with how these students are choosing to make their statements, but we must morally and legally protect their right to make them.”

See more: SIU Cheerleaders say they are hidden during national anthem due to kneeling protests

Tom Goetz, local military organizer, emailed Montemagno on Nov. 1, asking if the cheerleaders who had protested would be in attendance at the Dec. 19 basketball game against the North Carolina A&T Aggies.

“I believe that we have it worked out so the cheerleaders are not on the field or in the arena during the National Anthem,” Montemagno writes. “The new procedure worked this pass [sic] week for the women’s basketball game. This weekend will be football and men’s basketball which will be the final test.”

The cheerleaders were also kept outside of Saluki Stadium during the annual military appreciation game last Nov. 11 as pregame ceremonies, including the national anthem were underway. They were not permitted to attend the pregame ceremonies, including the national anthem.

Minutes before the planned demonstration at the football game, Montemagno emailed the three cheerleaders and said he continued to respect their right to kneel.

“I want you to know I continue to respect your right to kneel during the National Anthem,” Montemagno writes to the cheerleaders in the Nov. 11 email. “The First Amendment provides you that privilege and I will not deny you that right.”

In a Nov. 18 email to Montemagno, SIU Spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith responded to the Southern Illinoisan article showing the cheerleaders being kept outside of Saluki Stadium during the Veteran’s Day military appreciation football game on Nov. 11.

“Interesting that the pictures shows them protesting while they claim in the story that we are preventing their right to protest,” Goldsmith said.

Former SIU Athletic Director Tommy Bell did not say the change was made in response to the cheerleader’s protests.

“Our spirit teams have greeted customers at the entrances in the past, so this is not a new procedure for athletics,” Bell said to the Southern Illinoisan last November. “In fact, we had a consultant review our game operations last year, and one of his recommendations was to make arriving to a game an event in and of itself.”

The Daily Egyptian requested a copy of the consultant’s full report through the Illinois Freedom of Information Act but the release of the full consultant report was denied by the university after months of deliberation at the Illinois Office of the Attorney General.

The university hired 2D Consulting based in Burlington, North Carolina to assess game day operations in the Fall 2016 semester.

SIU Athletics paid $4,500 plus travel expenses to have the firm “identify opportunities and liabilities to maximize and improve home event operations,” according to the bid obtained by the Daily Egyptian.

[aesop_document type=”pdf” src=”https://dailyegyptian.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/1D-Consultant-W9-and-Proposa.pdf” caption=”2D Consultants W9 and Proposal”]

The firm set up “secret shops” during the Nov. 19, 2016 football game against Western Illinois University and during the Nov. 21, 2016 home basketball game against Mount Saint Mary’s to evaluate attendee interactions.

After appealing the request to the Illinois Attorney General’s office, Teresa Lim, Illinois Assistant Attorney General, said that “there is no indication that the university adopted the report as final university policy, as opposed to considering it in the process of formulating a policy.”

Lim further said while Bell was the head of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, the department is part of the University’ s formal organizational structure and is subject to the Chancellor’s direction.

The findings of the consultant’s 2016 report have not yet been released.

Tommy Bell was terminated from his position as athletic director for undisclosed reasons on April 26 and replaced by Kill, a former SIU Football Coach who was recently hired as a special assistant to the chancellor.

Kill is currently serving in the capacity as acting athletic director.

“It’s time for us to make a change in leadership that will help the program fulfill its potential,” Montemagno said according to the release on April 26. “I am deeply grateful for Tommy’s service and wish him well for the future.”

The protests were not against the flag or against the administration, Hunt said during an interview last October.

“It was a protest for our civil rights that we are still fighting for, that we have been fighting for, for hundreds of years and we’re not getting any justice,” Hunt said.

Brandy, a junior studying biological sciences, mirrored Hunt’s sentiments during the October interview.

“We’re still fighting for our civil rights that our ancestors have been fighting for,” Brandy said. “Black people and minorities as a whole have still been trying to become equal in society, and it has not changed.”

Tinker’s reason for kneeling focused on how minorities are treated by law enforcement.

“I did it because we still haven’t had justice against police brutality,” Tinker said. “Nothing has been done and it needs to change ASAP.”

It is unclear if the cheerleaders and spirit squad members will be returning to the playing surface during the anthem this year.

The same day the three SIU cheerleaders took a knee during the national anthem, five cheerleaders took a similar approach at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia.

University officials made game day schedule changes that kept the cheerleaders inside the tunnel during the anthem a week after the initial protest, according to the KSU Sentinel.

The changes were rescinded by Kennesaw State University president Sam Olens on Oct. 9 after a campus protest in support of the cheerleaders.

Olens stepped down as president of the university last December after text messages obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed an exchange between Georgia state Rep. Earl Ehrhart and Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren show the two pressured Olens into silencing the cheerleaders’ protest, the Sentinel reports.

Four out of the five cheerleaders that participated in the KSU protests last year did not return to the team after tryouts this academic year.

Last May, the National Football League passed a policy that gives athletes the option to stay in their locker rooms during the national anthem, but requires they stand if they are on the field. Teams will be penalized if their players do not comply to the policy.

President Donald Trump praised the new NFL policies and said people should “stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be paying.”

Trump furthermore added that those who do  “maybe… shouldn’t be in the country.”

Vice President Mike Pence reacted to the NFL’s new policy with a one word tweet – “#Winning.”

The SIU cheerleaders were honored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People last January during the 36th Annual Martin Luther King Junior breakfast.

Linda Flowers, NAACP Carbondale Branch president, said the three are “college students whose courage transcends cheerleading.”

“They have risked their safety, dare I say their cheerleading careers, to protest violence and injustices to African Americans,” Flowers said.

Lori Stettler, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, attended the ceremony in place of Montemagno citing he was on a fundraising campaign and was unable to attend.

“The three young ladies were recognized for their courage in standing up for what they believe in,” Stettler said. “That is foundational to everything we believe in as a society and as an institution.”

Staff reporter Brian Munoz can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @BrianMMunoz.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.


26 Responses to “SIU Athletics bans displays of activism to “put forward a message of unity,” one cheerleader returns following 2017 protests”

  1. Alan Bogovich on August 28th, 2018 9:10 pm

    In. communist countries public patriotism is forced. It’s a sad day that my “leader of the FREE world” country is following that path. Freedom of speech has been a basic part of our culture. 45 and his commrades are destroying the country I once loved but now tolerate. Dissapointed in university leadership

  2. Greg Todd on August 28th, 2018 9:50 pm

    Good reporting on this topic, Brian. It continuously surprises me that financially imperiled SIUC is constantly hiring expensive outside consultants to ask simple questions like “what do you think of cheerleaders kneeling?” It seems administrators who are worthy of six-figure salaries should have basic reasoning and communication skills to find these answers on their own. Up next: will any highly compensated administrators lose their jobs after the ten day enrollment numbers come out?

  3. disaffectedAF on August 28th, 2018 11:26 pm

    So… students, who are US citizens, who attend a state-run institution–an institution that takes state and federal taxes–are not allowed to voice their opinions. If they do so, they might be dismissed? That sounds like state coercion to me. But what do I know?

  4. Alan Goldfarb on August 29th, 2018 12:07 am

    As a white SIU alum, I’m appalled at the university’s business-as-usual, cowardly stance against free speech. When the hell will the message of racism and not against the military reach the mis-guided masses?

    SIU in the ’60s was once a way station for freedom riders, and a beacon for progressive thinking. What has happenimg in Washington has clearly trickled down to the center of the country.

    Don’t normalize the actions of a empathy- bereft excuse for a leader.

  5. Maria Parish on August 29th, 2018 1:41 am

    “We have this policy because were wanting to put forward a message of unity” is the exact opposite of sending a message of unity. Unity implies solidarity of all in support of the oppressed or discriminated against. And saying that you are unwilling to take sides “or offend[ing] one side or the other…” is just a cowardly paraphrase of trump’s infamous support for Charlottesville’s racist and nationalist thugs, when he said, “there are good people on both sides.” Shame on you for trying to censor the free speech of these cheerleaders. Advocating silence in the face of discrimination makes you an accomplice.

  6. judes on August 29th, 2018 3:26 am

    “Members of the department including student athletes cheerleaders and spirit members must remain neutral on any issue political in nature when wearing SIU official uniforms and when competing/performing in official department of athletics events and activities,” according to the addition provided to the Daily Egyptian. “Any display (verbal or non-verbal) of activism (either for or against) a political issue will not be tolerated and may result in dismissal from the program.”

    So if you represent the university community, you are not allowed to engage in political discourse? Does this ban on expressing opinions extend to professors? Am i banned from stating who i am voting for for president for example? Am i allowed to artend and be photographed and identified ( doxed) at a protest? I don’t wear a uniform but it is common knowledge that i am a professor here and that info is available as my info on all my social media accounts. I don’t wear a uniform but I am mainly on social nedia to praise my students accomplishments and bring attention to my own publications thus i represent SIUC. How far does this censorship extend? Or is it only students who have their first amendment rights violated?

  7. Elizabeth Malone on August 29th, 2018 6:36 am

    SIU used to be a bastion of sanity in Southern Illinois and supported free speech and the ideals of our representative democracy and our Constitutional rights to free speech. It encouraged free thought and the challenging of ideas by young minds that are being exposed to a diverse global population of students and faculty. It is increasingly becoming an arm of the government and is recruiting a less and less diverse student body. Diverse students no longer feel welcome on campus. As an LGBTQ student with disabilities at the law school, the environment is downright hostile and I am just trying to finish my final semester to get out of SIUC as soon as possible. That is sad because SIUC is the only school I applied to for law school because I fell in love with it when I visited from Chicago in 2015.

  8. Nathan Stephens on August 29th, 2018 7:05 am

    And SIUC continues to show underrrepresented groups “the Southern way of doing things.” There was a lot of hope with the changes in administration but no measurable progress of inclusive excellence or social justice. But then again “inclusive excellence” left with former Chancellor Rita Chang. To those who remain at SIUC, and continue to fight for diversity, equity, and social justice like Dr. Joseph Brown, Dr. Randy Burnside, Dr. Pamela Smoot, and many others, my prayers are with you. I cannot name one person in the senior administration that truly espouses and stands for the inclusion of all beyond rhetoric. Only those committed to the Southern way of doing things, which is eerily familiar to the South from American history that featured Jim Crow and vagrancy laws albeit not so brazenly public. Again my prayers are with those who resist and push for progress.

  9. A. Hall on August 29th, 2018 9:09 am

    Wow! These are our students! Kids! And they have something to say. They are speaking out about the problems that they witness that we can do something to change. Instead, you prefer to clap your hands over their mouths. Who would want to attend an institution of higher learning (historically places for free speech and thought) that discourages students from becoming activists? This is the stage of their life for pursuing ideals and forcing us to reexamine our collective trajectory. Just think about what this is teaching them. SIU this is not a good look.

  10. Kathleen Boyle on August 29th, 2018 9:25 am

    We can now officially scratch SIU off the potential college list for our daughter. You have to wonder what they’re really teaching if a student’s right to free speech and silent protest are now banned practices. I guess “Southern” says it all…

  11. Tony Williams on August 29th, 2018 1:38 pm

    What else would you expect from SIUC administration?

  12. Teresa C. on August 29th, 2018 2:32 pm

    ALL spirit team members were removed from the public eye during the National Anthem, NOT just those three. You wrote the story in a way that makes it appear they were singled-out and that is INACCURATE. Your poor choice of words and disregard for clarity is what causes animosity, hatred, and anger to brew. You should be more responsible when reporting.

  13. Allie A Moore on August 29th, 2018 6:31 pm

    Apparently SIU does not believe in the First Amendment. Attending SIU is an expensive ” privilege”… maybe their money would be better spent at a University that respects the ideals behind the flag. This is sad.

  14. Mike on August 29th, 2018 7:03 pm

    These three women are patriots! I wonder where the right-wing folks who complain about campus restrictions on free speech are on this one.

    It bothers me that these women are not all back at SIUC and on the field this fall. The university community should support and encourage them as community leaders.

  15. Gary S. Beer on August 29th, 2018 8:53 pm

    I guess academic freedom and 1st amendment rights have become passé in this era of the Donald and authoritarianism. Hopefully an advocacy group such as the ACLU will go after this cowardly POS policy.

    This is so typical of your basic education administration hacks, always looking for and taking the intellectually lazy, cowardly, or expedient way to handle any issue. If only they had not misplaced or lost their critical thinking abilities that they should have developed from their student days.

  16. Alice Estes on August 29th, 2018 8:56 pm

    BRAVO, SIU!!! This position should have been taken from the beginning!

  17. Charles W. Robinson on August 29th, 2018 10:46 pm

    Like any other company/organization, they can reprimand their members who are representing the company/organization and does so in a way that harms that company/organization. While in the military, I could not push my political beliefs onto my fellow service members nor could I participate in political activities while in uniform. While working for a non-profit, no politics was allowed at work and you could not wear the organizations shirt while at political activities. This is done for good order and discipline, to keep the military/organization neutral, and to show respect for all people. SIU has to provide a safe environment for students from a wide variety of backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. And, the many Veterans who are fellow students. It is a fine balancing act for the SIU leadership. As a student, learn that professionalism still matters.

  18. James B on August 30th, 2018 7:56 am

    IT’S NOT ABOUT THE FLAG AND NEVER HAS BEEN. That is the rally cry NOW, and an absolute lie. It amazes me that until a few years ago no one in this country had differences of opinion on what “Old Glory” stood for. We all knew it was, and still is, the symbol that united us regardless of any political affiliation, religious beliefs, or race. It made us whole, united, and proud. WHAT HAPPENED!!! Colin Kaepernick decided that the flag stood for racism and police brutality against black people and would not respect it by standing. THAT’S IT!! His exact words, and his first words, when asked after the game why he sat and did not honor our country. And I quote “”I am not going to stand up to show pride in a FLAG for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
    That is representation my friends. A FLAG that represents a country that oppresses black people and people of color and police officers who murder those same people. That is what the protest is founded on. Our flag and our country and what it represents. Our flag does NOT represent that and never has. It never will.

  19. Markovic H Drummond on August 30th, 2018 11:06 am

    If, as an SIU-C student back in the 80s, had I been able to see 38 years into the future and read this, I would have immediately transferred to a different school. So disappointed in my Alma mater.

  20. Jonny Gray on August 30th, 2018 11:40 am

    This is a retrograde and harmful policy. It is an affront to the very idea of “unity,” which cannot be accomplished by hiding those with concerns. It runs absolutely counter to what it means to be a Saluki.

    Our Administration has pulled from our limited financial resources to post all over campus our mission statement, because ahead of our accreditation review they are worried most of us don’t know what it is. It reads, in part: “…we create and exchange knowledge to shape future leaders, improve our communities, and transform lives.” Apparently our administration is not aware of our mission statement, either.

    We cannot “exchange knowledge” if we ban the expression of it. We will not “shape future leaders” if we tell them their uniform restricts their ability to express concerns. We will not “improve our communities” if we only try to hide problems our community members are facing. We might stomach this policy if it came hand in hand with a true commitment to our mission statement that allowed a meaningful space for substantive conversation and necessary addressment of the issues these athletes and other students are trying to draw attention to.

    I have faith that our students (and faculty and staff and other community members) have a better understanding of our mission at SIU and what it means to be a Saluki. They will not let their voices be silenced. And they are quite prepared to educate (again!) this administration!

  21. Gary Gaines on August 30th, 2018 11:57 am

    What a dumbass policy for a university in America. My legislators will be hearing about this and your opinion of the First Amendment.

  22. Robert Jonez on August 30th, 2018 12:11 pm

    I’ve never been more disappointed in SIU then I am at this moment!!!

  23. Virginia Tilley on August 30th, 2018 3:41 pm

    There’s a long and noble history of athletes making public gestures affirming our country’s ideals of freedom and equality in times of trouble. Recall that immortal image of medal winners Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists at the 1968 Summer Olympics, which we now remember with warmth and pride. Why deny the same right of expression, dignity and courage to members of our own community? Isn’t helping people develop and commit themselves to informed critical engagement with our country and the world the very essence of our mission?

    It worries me that SIU and maybe US universities in general, with their proud historical tradition of free thought, protest and activism in the face of social injustice, are being reconceived as cheerful youth camps where “school spirit” is something vacuous and anodyne.

  24. Gus Bode on August 30th, 2018 4:46 pm

    To fully understand the difference between a right and a privilege review the explanation from Professor Hohfeld from Stanford.

  25. John S. Burningham on August 30th, 2018 8:48 pm

    When you represent a group or organization it is not the time nor place for disruptive behavior. Everyone is free to protest on their own time but to do it a representative of the institution is disrespectful and they should be terminated from their respective position.

    Class of 1973 and former DE Staffer.

  26. Josh Wilson on September 1st, 2018 8:56 pm

    If kneeling for the anthem is taking a side of a political issue, wouldn’t standing for the anthem also be taking a side, and thus, be in violation of the new policy? If so, then should no SIU official or representative be present for the anthem while in “SIIU official uniforms”?

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