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U of S follows the U of C’s lead on offensive intramural team names

By Chris Adams, January 15 2015 —

Intramural sports organizers at the University of Saskatchewan are following the University of Calgary’s lead by considering a ban on offensive intramural team names.

U of C’s Active Living office  banned offensive names for the intramural winter season after Students’ Union arts representative Lexi Narowski said some names perpetuate rape culture. Narowski thought Active Living should ban team names like Frigid Whore, Cunning Stunts and Beats by Ray.

U of S campus recreation coordinator Cary Primeau said they’ll review their naming procedure in light of the U of C’s new policy.

The U of S hadn’t received formal complaints from students prior to considering the ban.

“We try to make sure we get teams to change [the names] or to make sure they understand we find them offensive and need to change them,” Primeau said in an interview with Saskatoon paper The Star Phoenix.

According to the U of S campus recreation website, captains are instructed to choose names that are “in good taste and not offensive to individuals or groups.”

According to The Star Phoenix, intramural names like the Blue Balls of Destiny, Son’s of Pitches and the Bridge City Muffin Stuffers were last season at the U of S. Around 6,000 U of S students play intramural sports. Over 21,000 students attended the U of S in 2013.

Primeau said the U of S wants to formalize their naming procedure and that they’ll discuss how to do that at the Western Canadian Campus Recreation conference held in Kelowna from Jan. 30–Feb. 1.

Faculty of kinesiology communications director Don McSwiney said Narowski’s complaint was the first he’d heard at the U of C.

Narowski contacted the U of C’s Active Living office after learning about the team names in October. Team names referencing alcohol or drugs, invasive or violent acts, that are sexually explicit, or demeaning to race, religion, sexual orientation and national origin are now banned.

U of C Active Living’s intramural student council runs the intramural program. If a majority of council members think a name breaks their policy, they can ask the captain to rename their team.

McSwiney said only a few team names were rejected under the new regulations. He said Frigid Whore has been renamed The Friendly Whales.

“This is a problem that faces not just the U of C, but almost any league in any city that this kind of co-recreational activity. It was a little bit of a wake up call for us,” McSwiney said.

Narowski said she’s pleased the U of C started policing the team names, adding that the ban makes intramurals more inclusive.

But the ban has divided opinion on campus.

Third-year engineering student Josh Bijak started a Facebook group called “Allow All Intramural Team Names at the U of C” in opposition to the change.

The page has over 300 likes. Bijak likened the ban to an unnecessary limitation on free speech.

He downplayed Narowski’s claim that the names were overtly offensive.

“The point is that none of these names that were deemed offensive were in any way overtly offensive in the sense that they were like hate speech. They were just clever puns that people found mildly offensive,” Bijak said.

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