Since BYU joined the West Coast Conference in 2011, Gonzaga students have developed the tradition of dressing up like Mormon missionaries when the Cougars are in town. It is a gesture that serves no purpose, other than to mock an opponent based on religious identity, and a few different Gonzaga organizations are trying to put an end to it.
From the Gonzaga Bulletin:
On Friday, Jan. 26, a meeting was held that included members of the Athletic Department, University Ministry and Mission, Student Development, Advancement and Alumni and the General Counselor’s Office to discuss ways to eliminate the mockery and mimicking of Mormons.“[Those costumes don’t] really represent who we are as a university and it shines bad on us and doesn’t show a welcoming community that supports everybody,” Colleen Vandenboom, assistant dean of Student Involvement and Leadership said. “So every year it has come up and we have been talking a lot with Kennel Club and they agree — it’s not cool.”
On gameday, members of the Ministry and Mission, Student Development, Athletic Department, including athletic director Mike Roth, and the Rev. Frank Case, who sits on the men’s basketball team’s bench, will be monitoring the line of students waiting to enter the McCarthey Center looking for Mormon Missionary costumes.
If spotted, there will be “conversations” with those dressed up.
“When we learned that [Wade] had been recruited to come here, we had to be legit,” Vandenboom said. “Like OK, we have been talking about it enough and now, not only is it embarrassing, but it’s like, really? He’s one of our community members.”