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Casper decries uncivil tone of rivalries

President Gerhard Casper urged campuses nationwide to restore a friendlier tone to college athletics in the aftermath of November's 100th Big Game rivalry.

The hijinks following the game went too far, Casper told members of the Faculty Senate on Dec. 4, citing the sometimes uncivil atmosphere that characterized Big Game and some events during the week preceding it. At least six people were arrested and 23 people were treated for injury after the game on Nov. 22. Seven were treated by medical personnel on the field, four went to the emergency room and 12 students were seen at Cowell Health Center the following week.

"If we, the universities, do not manage to make friendly a meaningful qualifier to rivalry, we should reconsider the rules of intercollegiate athletics," he said.

During his five-minute statement, Casper read a letter he received from a Stanford alumna whose seats happened to be in the middle of the University of California-Berkeley's rooting section.

"We were pushed, shoved and kicked by Cal students along both sides of the aisle," the woman wrote. "Those sitting in the aisles tripped us deliberately as they screamed at us. My hat was ripped off my head and tossed repeatedly from Cal fan to Cal fan. I never recovered it."

During the week preceding the game, the Daily Californian ran a column that Casper said was "so gross and obscene that newspapers I saw actually sanitized their reports of the column."

"It is one of the delusions of our time that being gross and obscene can be equated with being satirical," Casper said. "It is also one of the delusions of our time that civility is a virtue to be prized less than epithets."

Months after the Stanford-Notre Dame football game, Casper said he continues to be inundated with letters and e-mail from Irish Catholics who were deeply offended by the Stanford Band's portrayal of the great famine.

"I actually would not have returned to the subject of the band but for considerations of equity, because the tone that's being set we all contribute to, and it would be unfair to just single out Cal."


By Marisa Cigarroa

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