Two out of the eleven members of Western’s Mystic dance team chose to take a knee during the national anthem at Western’s home football game, Saturday, Oct. 1. As a result, Eugenia Wallace and Jay Alford were prevented from participating in their regularly scheduled halftime show.
Following the lead of San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick, the students were the first athletes at Western to take a knee during a sporting event to openly advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Wallace and Alford were removed from the performance, but not removed from the dance team. Alford explained the coach’s personal decision to remove them was based on a lack of team mentality, but the ultimate decision to remove them from the performance came from an unknown overhead source.
Missouri Western President Robert Vartabedian formally apologized to Wallace and Alford on behalf of the university Monday afternoon, ensuring that the university would not intentionally infringe on a student’s rights.
Alford feels that the issue of race inequality highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement is an important subject for students and community members alike.
“I just felt the need because it is a huge field and a huge stage to bring awareness to what’s going on,” Alford said.
Student athletes are required to sign contracts to maintain a certain GPA and attendance record, but Alford was unsure if the behavior agreement would extend to her decision to silently protest at Saturday’s game. Both students will meet with administration and members of the Student Government Association to further the conversation on combating racial inequality in the upcoming weeks.