The recent suspension of four Colorado College hockey players was a penalty for wearing blackface and costumes of characters in a TV show about a black family.
The players were senior captain Scott Thauwald, sophomores Andreas Vlassopoulos and Brian Connelly, and freshman Brett Wysopal.
The punishment included two weeks without hockey team activities and disciplinary probation for the rest of the school year. The players were required to meet with members of the local branches of the NAACP and the Urban League, and participate in a campus forum at the school’s multicultural residence, Glass House, with members of the Black Student Union.
The four must take an extra course on “diverse cultures,” and the entire team will meet with speakers and members of the school’s Diversity Task Force.
The players divided themselves into groups and, in conjunction with this year’s theme of TV shows, picked a show to represent. Groups chose “Baywatch,” “Entourage,” “WWE,” “Scrubs” and “The Office.” The four players in question chose “Family Matters” and wore wigs and makeup.
“Colorado College must be a diverse, respectful community, where we value all persons and seek to learn from their diverse experiences and perspectives,” CC President Richard Celeste said in a statement. “Several weeks ago, an incident in which students engaged in inappropriate and offensive behavior violated this core value. The college took this situation very seriously and acted as quickly as possible to take substantial disciplinary action and create opportunities for dialogue.”
“The intent was to have good costumes,” Thauwald said. “We realize now, even though there was no racial intent, that what we did was wrong. We’ve all learned a lot through the last couple of weeks, and we’ve apologized to the school and the people we directly affected, and I feel like a lot of the students were pretty welcoming to our apology. We made a mistake.”
The others expressed similar sentiments:
Connelly: “We know what we did hurt people. We want to become leaders on campus.”
Vlassopoulos: “We were hurt not just for the fact that people were calling us racist, but we did cause a lot of pain for people. . . . That was tough realizing that you affected in a bad way so many people you didn’t even know.”
Wysopal: “The biggest thing was that it hurt that they thought we were lying about our apology. It came from the heart. There was no racist intent involved. We made a mistake and we’re paying for it. But we want to stay involved.”