RYAN BLAKE | Evergreen reporter
A student-led demonstration will take place in the stands during the Cougars’ home football game against University of Southern California on Friday.
The demonstration, called “Uniting for Change”, encourages students, staff and the Pullman community to bring signs and flags representing where they are from, according to a news release Wednesday.
Additionally, the release indicates demonstrators will link arms during the national anthem in a sign of unity.
The event is not affiliated with any registered student organization on campus, but instead, is created by Eduardo Chavez, a senior sport management major at WSU.
Chavez said he thought it would be a nice idea, and got encouragement from classmates and professors to go through with the demonstration.
The release by Chavez responds to a statement by WSU President Kirk Schulz, which called the upcoming football game “a tremendous opportunity to boost awareness of the University.”
“The ‘Uniting for Change’ demonstration is about seizing that opportunity,” Chavez said in the release. “We want to show those in attendance as well as a national TV audience that WSU welcomes and respects people of all ethnicities and nationalities, and to inspire the WSU community to work toward constructing a safe and more just society.”
Friday’s game will be broadcast live on ESPN and feature two undefeated, nationally ranked teams — a detail that did not go unnoticed by Chavez.
“We definitely want to show that we at WSU here in Pullman, can make an impact around the world,” Chavez said.
The demonstration comes on the heels of comments made by President Donald Trump that sparked nationwide debate and prompted players across the NFL to kneel during the national anthem. In a series of tweets on Friday, Trump suggested players demonstrating during the anthem should be fired.
WSU Head Coach Mike Leach, who spoke in favor of Trump during his 2016 campaign for president, said he had not addressed the NFL protests with his players, before expressing his confusion with the situation.
“To me it’s not real clear what’s being protested,” Leach said. “Me personally, I’m proud of this country and would stand for the anthem and respect the flag. But with that said, I don’t know what exactly they’re objecting to.”
Leach noted his team will remain in the locker room during the anthem, as always.
Former WSU receiver Gabe Marks tweeted at his former coach in response to Leach’s comments. The two exchanged several tweets about the issue without reaching an agreement.