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The Scarlet & Black

Student-athletes run ‘R-word’ campaign

The “Spread the Word to End the Word” movement, a national push to eliminate the derogatory use of the word ‘retard’, came to Grinnell this month. The entire athletic department participated in the R-Word campaign, in response to a challenge from the commissioner of the Midwest Conference (MWC) to rally support for the cause.

“We decided to make it a competition between the schools to see who could get the most pledges,” said Michael Cole ’12, Student Athletic Advisory Council (SAAC) Representative.

A speaker from the Special Olympics promoted the movement at an MWC SAAC meeting in November, 

“Our primary goal is to raise awareness of the great campaign that was put together by the Special Olympics, to encourage people to think twice when using the ‘R-word’ in slang or everyday speech, and to foster respect and inclusion of those people with intellectual disabilities,” Cole wrote in an e-mail.

The R-Word campaign ran from Monday, Feb. 1, to Friday, Feb. 12.  During this time, MWC schools were charged with getting as many students, faculty, staff and community members to pledge support for the R-Word campaign.

SAAC contributed to the cause by selling T-shirts with campaign slogans outside of the dining hall and by putting up posters around campus. The proceeds of the T-shirts will go to the Special Olympics

Sports teams were involved as well. The basketball teams wore the R-Word campaign shirts for warm-ups during the challenge period.  

As a result of the Grinnell campaign and across the nation, support for the campaign seems to be spreading. As of Feb. 10, over 59,000 people have pledged support through promotion of the website, Students who pledged were asked to indicate that they were from Grinnell, so that their pledges could be tracked and tallied.

“We probably won’t know [the number of Grinnell students who pledged] until the end of the campaign,” said Liz Davis ’11, SAAC Representative.  “Right now though I would say there’s at least one hundred, and I’m sure there’s many more.”

The pledges will be counted by February 19, and the College with the most pledges will receive a $250 prize and will be recognized in a ceremony at the MWC Men’s and Women’s Basketball tournaments.

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