Editorial: The Student Section is Fine the Way it Is

Mega-Boone makes the first appearance of the season
Last week, The Clarion published an article about the student section at DU hockey games. To spare you a click, allow me to summarize: Some people find some of the chants that the student section uses offensive.

I want to be clear: This is not an attack on The Clarion. This is not an attack on the author of the article, Carolyn Angiollo. She is one of the best student fans at games and supports DU athletics through and through. Her article brought to light a student issue that some believe does not reflect well on our beloved Pioneers. I applaud her for taking on a controversial issue and thoughtfully articulating one side of the argument.

It is my understanding that some "members of the DU community" have contacted Chancellor Chopp and expressed their displeasure about the student section chants. Such chants come across vulgar in nature and may not be appropriate for the ears of children...or so they claim. Some of these chants include insulting the opposing goalie's mother and referring to sexual terms and items as the main point of a given chant. I won't go into any further detail. You can use your imagination if you haven't been to a hockey game this year.

I am a 5th year DU student working toward both my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Accountancy and I've been one of the most consistent supporters of DU hockey during my time on campus. With the exception of my time abroad during my junior year, I've missed just 3 or 4 games DU played in Colorado. I haven't missed a CC game in Denver or in Colorado Springs and I haven't missed an Air Force game at either location.

I mention this because this is the first time the student section chants have become an issue. In the last five years, chants haven't changed. So why is this an issue? Why now? Has the crowd composition at hockey games changed so drastically that those who weren't previously offended don't come anymore?

Before I sat down to write this, I reached out to Chancellor Chopp and asked her these and other questions...0 of which were answered. Instead she emailed me this statement:
"I am thrilled with the enthusiasm of our students. In fact, this is why we partnered with the Undergraduate Student Government to pilot a program to provide free tickets to DU students (both undergraduates and graduate students). I trust the creativity and commitment of our students, and I know they will figure out how they should support our athletic teams with cheers that are both clever and uphold our values of good sportsmanship. My main hope is that we can get more students out cheering on fellow students and supporting one another, while also building a stronger DU community."
In her defense, we are nearing the end of the quarter and her schedule is probably full. She may not have had a chance to respond to my questions with much thought, so I'm inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.

While she didn't give me any concrete answers, Chancellor Chopp did give me a chance to read between the lines: this issue has been blown out of proportion.

The administration loves the growing school spirit and it is extremely unlikely they will do anything to stifle this progress. So students, you can relax. You can continue being loud and extremely supportive. Keep doing your thing.

To those who find such chants offensive and/or inappropriate: understand that a college hockey game is not meant to be a "PG" environment. At its tamest, it's meant to be PG-13. These are college students at one end of the ice.

In fact, schools like Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, and North Dakota all have much more rowdy student sections than the Pios and these schools use most, if not all, of the same chants that our student section uses. DU students didn't come up with these chants by themselves. They've been around for years.

A condemnation of the DU student section is a condemnation of the entire student section culture in college hockey. DU is not unique. DU is not better or worse than these schools (well, maybe better than Duluth's). DU is right where it should be: it has a loud, supportive, growing student fan base...

...and the hockey team has noticed. Coach Montgomery and various players have voiced their joy at the energy the student section provides on a nightly basis. A loud, energetic crowd means better Pioneer hockey. I checked. There's a direct correlation. There is a reason the Pios are undefeated and dominate opponents on home ice: noise. The hockey team loves it and I guarantee they don't care what's being chanted by the student section.

So to the various members of "The DU community," I say:

Students, stay loud. Stay vulgar, but classy and keep doing your thing.

Other fans, relax. It's a hockey game. Students are there to have fun just like you are. Understand that the students are not going to tailor their experience to what you wish yours to be. Enjoy the moment. Relish in the fact that you're witnessing the transition into an era of the best school spirit in DU's history.

The student section is fine just the way it is.


Anonymous said...

This Clarion story had to have been planted by some high ranking administrator who probably talked the Chancellor into speaking about this stupid pet issue that is way, way below her pay grade.

I'm sure she'll stay away from this kind of trap in the future, as there is no upside for her.

In the meantime, this year has seen some of the best hockey student spirit we've seen in years this season, and I hope the students can keep it going in January, which is the next time we'll see a student section at Magness.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all your points. The students should be loud and proud and realize that there are an isolated few that are in the process of trying to extract the fun from games. I do not put this at Chancellor Chopp's feet because she appears to be a HUGE athletics supporter. Also, this does not appear to be coming from the athletic department. It's definately NOT coming from the alums. That leaves it up to the 'Berkeley' administrators (you know who you are) who want to turn all colleges into the University of Vanilla. It won't work - you're outnumbered.

achsdu17 said...

With all the improvement I've seen in the student section, I still think they are very tame in comparison to other top hockey schools in the nation. If I could have it my way, I'd love to see them more like English soccer fans with fun songs, more variety in chants and maybe some theme nights. I'd also like to hear the band play In Heaven There Is No Beer.

Still it's way better then when I went to school there. The student section has upped their game.

Anonymous said...

You don't become a top student section overnight. We are situated a long way from our competition, which means that most of our fans have never been to an opponent's rink other than maybe CC, and that student section is far below ours. What they don't see, they don't emulate.

I will say that having the band at hockey games is a difference-maker, and with the addition of Mega-Boone, the student section also has some visual appeal. Of course, more songs, chants, choreography and large sign displays are the next level to strive for, but frankly, the first priority is getting 500 or more students to come to the games when the opponent isn't CC or it's not Homecoming weekend. When we get 500 DU kids in the section playing Omaha, St. Cloud or Western Michigan, during ski season, that will be a milestone worth celebrating.

This year, the kids are having a blast and making noise in numbers. We're seeing the hockey team returning the love with wins, post-game skate overs and twitter thank-yours. The student government has stepped up and paid for many student tickets, which gives students no financial excuse for not coming out and creates more access. All in all, progress comes, but it takes time.

Anonymous said...

Administration needs to drop this issue...stat. It is ridiculous that they would try to censor the only vocal part of the arena, that they would criticize the only people in the arena that add ANY atmosphere to DU games. Losing even 50 paying fans (which is highly doubtful) who are offended is MUCH MUCH MUCH better than losing any student attendance, or making it less fun for the students to attend. Admin: if you think that a condom cheer is offensive (good god), then travel to some other hockey arenas and you will see that what the DU students are chanting is far tamer in comparison. The admin had a disaster with trying to censor or eliminate Boone, and they will have another uprising from students and alums if they stay on this track.

DU WAG said...

I can never understand what they are saying anyway. But then, it's hard to hear from the free buffet at the Gold Club. Nom nom nom.