For the last 50 years, Every Man a Wildcat, or EMAW, has been a common phrase to hear around the K-State campus. But in light of events late last week, the usage of EMAW will be abbreviated in the future and removed from some school events.
The rumor mill circulated over the weekend by talk about the Kansas State University Marching Band removing the EMAW formation from its spot in the pregame routine at the Kent State football game on Saturday. Although the game is now long over, controversy and speculation remains on how the University will handle the usage of EMAW in the future.
Last week was not the first time the EMAW formation was questioned. Last year, it was requested to Band Director Frank Tracz to have it removed from the marching band. He obliged and changed the formation to “Big 12″, a change that caused very little anguish. But this year, the borderline disgust about the removal of EMAW has made caused the creation of a campaign that’s gone viral in recent days.
“I was asked not to do (the formation),” Tracz said. “It was my decision to pull it. It was in the best interest to pull it. There are some people, I’m not sure if the right word is ‘offended’ or ‘upset’, or just don’t like what ‘EMAW’ stands for, but I just didn’t want to create controversy.”
Although the EMAW formation was removed from the marching band, it is not being removed from the entire university as a licensed saying. Jeff Morris, vice president of communications and marketing, said EMAW is a part of the university’s licensed program and it will remain licensed. Morris said that there is no plan on getting rid of the slogan as a whole.
There was also confusion about whether or not Threads in Aggieville was selling “Save EMAW” shirts. The process of having to get the approval of using words that are licensed through the university is decently extensive. The biggest problem with this particular debalce was the fact the university would not approve this saying.
“We have the rights to print EMAW shirts,” said Tanner Pieshcl, manager at Thread. “We do not have the rights to sell ‘Save EMAW’ shirts. There is no way the university would ever approve something like that. We have a really good working relationship with the university and they are easy to work with, and there is no way we would try to disrupt that.”
While the Save EMAW idea was denied, a similar shirt with the phrase “#SaveEMAW” is rumored to be available online, since “SaveEMAW” is one word and does not directly violate K-State’s license.
There were some people who thought that the saying Every Man A Wildcat was not inclusive to both sexes, which is where the questioning of EMAW’s usage stemmed from. Beth Mendenhall, who graduated this spring with a dual major in political science and philosophy, made waves when she suggested EMAW be replaced with EPAW — Every Person a Wildcat — in an Aug. 26, 2009 opinion column in the Collegian. Mendenhall was in town over the weekend and followed the Save EMAW campaign on Facebook and Twitter. Mendenhall said their argument to save the phrase was “infuriating.”
“I feel like it’s a really strong, aggressive but shallowly based movement,” Mendenhall said.
Mendenhall said school pride should be inclusive for everyone and when that solidarity is gendered, it excludes female members. Mendenhall said she had a lot of pride for her Alma Mater.
“I miss K-State a lot,” Mendenhall said.
Tracz said he thought the university had received enough emails and phone calls complaining about the phrase to force K-State to act.
“It is my understanding that there are certain members of the Wildcat nation that feel excluded by the ‘Every Man A Wildcat’ phrase,” said Dean of Student Life Pat Bosco. “There were enough people who wished for it just to be removed.”
The viral campaign to save EMAW has hit Twitter, Facebook and now the anonymous community also has a Gmail account. Many student of K-State have shown their support for this campaign, but this battle is far from over.
A poll question posted on sportsblogmhk.com revealed that 92 percent, of the 322 that voted, of people do not find the phrase offensive, while 8 percent think K-State should use EPAW instead, or remove the phrase as a whole.
The administration has the ability to dictate whether or not the EMAW formation will be able to go back into the marching band line-up. But as it looks now, that formation is no longer an option, although the phrase appears to live on in the student community.