Goucher coach apologizes for remark Head of basketball team had referred to players as 'my plantation'

February 27, 1997|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

A racially insensitive remark by the men's basketball coach at Goucher College during a team meeting last semester has resulted in a public apology and sparked a campuswide examination of how students and faculty members deal with race.

More than 150 Goucher students gathered at a forum last night to discuss several alleged racial incidents at the college, and a remark that coach Leonard Trevino made during a December team practice when he referred to the basketball team as "my plantation."

"Racial statements in an institution of higher learning are not acceptable," said Melanie Muldrow, a senior communications and sociology major, who noted that such behavior is expressly prohibited in the student handbook. "If students can be held accountable for their behavior so should the faculty and staff."

At Saturday's basketball game, 14 students dressed in black and protested the coach's remark, holding up signs denouncing racism. Several students at last night's forum criticized the protest, saying conducting it during a championship game was inappropriate.

The furor over the remark started last week when a student brought it up during a small-group discussion on racism led by a Goucher professor. On Monday, Trevino issued a written apology addressed to "The Goucher Community," calling the remark "in poor taste and unprofessional."

He said that he had met with the team and apologized for his comments.

Trevino said he issued the apology on his own, without pressure from the college administration. He said that being of Hispanic descent, he understands the harm that can come from statements that are racist or are perceived as racist. He said he regrets his choice of words but added that he was merely trying to emphasize his authority over the members of the team.

Richard Bader, Goucher's executive director of communications, said that the administration has accepted Trevino's apology but added it is taking the incident and the concerns it raises very seriously.

"To date, there has been no move toward administrative action against Leonard Trevino" he said. "He's been a very strong advocate of diversity in his role here."

But students who organized last night's forum said the apology didn't go far enough.

"He sent out an apology, but he didn't acknowledge what he said was a racist statement," said Ayanna Jenkins, a junior majoring in communications.

Pub Date: 2/27/97

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