By Gayathri Peringod, February 6 2020—
A Students’ Union representative went viral after holding a banner with a controversial slogan on Jan. 30 at the Crowchild Classic hockey game — the annual contest between the University of Calgary Dinos and the Mount Royal University (MRU) Cougars. The signs, chants and crosstown rivalry always get heated, and this year, Faculty of Arts representative Justin Gotta drew some attention with his choice of signage.
Gotta ended up on Reddit after he held up a poster with the words “I’d rather go to Wuhan than MRU,” the University of Calgary’s rivals at the Crowchild Classic sporting event.
Gotta’s own Instagram story showed a video of the SU representative speaking to Saddledome officials with the caption, “So security took my sign away…,” after which he reclaimed it from the security office, proudly saying to the camera, “I’m taking the sign back,” as a security guard retrieved his poster from the office.
The city of Wuhan in Hubei province, China is the alleged origin of the novel coronavirus epidemic, with claims of the virus originating in a seafood market in the city. Evidently, at least one game-goer took offense.
Following the hockey game, the SU tweeted, “We are aware of an incident that took place at the Crowchild Classic last night, and we are currently looking into it.”
The SU confirmed that the Tweet was a response to a complaint about Gotta’s sign, but that after discussing the issue with Gotta and the complainant, the issue was resolved internally and no further action will be taken.
In a statement provided to the Gauntlet, Gotta indicated that he had no intention to offend anyone, but rather was simply attempting to show school spirit.
“Crowchild Classic is one of the only opportunities students have to show our campus sporting spirit. I was there as a student and avid sports fan to share my pride for my school and express the rivalry between UCalgary and MRU in good spirit,” the statement reads.
“Once photos of my sign went viral on social media, I did receive a lot more positive feedback, which is why I shared posts on my personal social media. However, I also received criticisms which I certainly acknowledge and appreciate. Since then I’ve become more aware of the significance of the events in East Asia. My intent wasn’t to be malicious towards anyone of any ethnicity, and I want to take this as a learning experience moving forward and to hold myself accountable.”