PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The University of Oregon says it sincerely apologizes for the behavior of student fans at the football game against Brigham Young University Saturday after video made its way onto social media showing students chanting hateful and offensive things.
The video spread widely on social media after Saturday’s game. In it, the students are heard chanting “F— the Mormons.”
Comments on social media called out Ducks fans for targeting the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints religion.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox retweeted the video and said, “Religious bigotry alive and celebrated in Oregon.”
Aubrey, who asked KOIN 6 News to not use her last name, was the person who recorded the video that’s circulating. She said she didn’t start recording the students chanting until they did it a third time.
She hoped the video would help them get the message that what they were doing was not OK, but she said they didn’t stop.
“The students section definitely knew I was upset and one of the Oregon fans behind me leaned over and said, essentially, ‘Be kind to them. They’re freshmen.’ Which was really disappointing because that is an acknowledgment that that person knew that what they were doing was wrong,” she said.
She tried talking to crowd control employees and was told there would be an announcement made in the stadium asking fans to stop their hateful chants, but the announcement never came.
Aubrey is a BYU alumna and a Latter-day Saint. She was disappointed to see the students acting this way. While she isn’t very sensitive to religious insults, she wants the students to know that chants like that shouldn’t be directed at any religion.
“It seems that [Americans] really try to respect certain religions, but the Mormon Church has never been one of them,” she said. “It seems like it’s still OK to make fun of Mormons. And that happens in front of me all the time and I would like it to stop.”
The Oregon Pit Crew, which helps organize the student section at sporting events, tweeted a response to the offensive chants Saturday night.
“To all @BYUfootball fans in attendance at todays (sic) game we would like to apologize for the actions of the students in attendance. We do not condone or support any hateful speech directed towards one’s religion and are ashamed of those who participated,” the Oregon Pit Crew said.
Sunday morning, Cox retweeted the Oregon Pit Crew with a heart emoji and fist bump emoji.
The University of Oregon also tweeted a statement in response to the students’ behavior.
“The University of Oregon sincerely apologizes for an offensive and disgraceful chant coming from the student section during yesterday’s game against Brigham Young University. These types of actions go against everything the university stands for, and it goes against the spirit of competition. We can and will do better as a campus community that has no place for hate, bias or bigotry,” it stated.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown retweeted the University of Oregon’s statement and said, “In Oregon, we strive to be a welcoming, inclusive state to all, regardless of race, religion, gender, or background. Our state and nation have an ugly history of discrimination and bigotry. The chant at yesterday’s Oregon-BYU game was unacceptable. We must do better.”
Kris Winter, interim vice president for the Division of Student Life at the University of Oregon, also issued a statement in response to the incident. She said, “The university apologizes for the despicable chants made by some University of Oregon fans at today’s football game with Brigham Young University. There is no place for hate, bias or bigotry at the University of Oregon. These actions are simply unacceptable. We will investigate, and we call on our students and campus community to refuse to accept or tolerate this type of behavior.”
Aubrey said she’d like to see the University of Oregon take more initiative in addressing the issue. She hopes the school conducts some sort of diversity training when it comes to respecting all religions and that students can learn from this experience.
Aubrey traveled to the University of Oregon game from the Washington D.C. area. She tries to attend a BYU football away game every year. After this experience, she doesn’t expect she will ever return for another game at Autzen Stadium.
Ahead of Saturday’s game, BYU’s football team entered Autzen Stadium holding an Oregon flag with the name “Webb” and the number 18 on it to honor Spencer Webb, an Oregon Ducks tight end who died in a fall in July.
BYU recently investigated its fans after they were accused of directing racial slurs toward a Duke Volleyball player during a match on Aug. 26. The university said it found no evidence to support the claim but reiterated it would not tolerate any conduct that threatens a student-athlete.
KOIN 6 News reached out to Brigham Young University and received a response Monday.
“We appreciate the sincere apology from the University of Oregon regarding the behavior of some fans at Autzen Stadium on Saturday. We recognize that this isolated behavior does not reflect the values of the University of Oregon. As we all work together to address incidents that seek to divide us, we are grateful for those who are willing to come together to build bridges of understanding,” BYU said in a statement.