Friday, October 22, 2004

KU student leader wants to revive Border ‘War’


For Dennis Chanay, the battle has just begun.

The Kansas University student senator couldn't believe his ears when he learned earlier this month that athletics officials from KU and the University of Missouri agreed to change the official name of the schools' rivalry to "Border Showdown" instead of "Border War."

So he launched a crusade to get the name restored.

"It's based on an actual war," Chanay said of the rivalry. "(William) Quantrill rode into town. Lawrence got burned to the ground. A hundred and fifty people died. To change the name after hearing no complaints, it's revisionist history."

The name change was announced Oct. 4 in a news release issued by the universities' athletic departments. The switch was necessary to "reflect a sensitivity to current world events," they said.

"We feel that in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, and the ensuing events around the world, it is inappropriate to use the term 'war' to describe intercollegiate athletics events," said KU athletic director Lew Perkins. "We need to be more sensitive to the men and women who defend our country for real."

Added Mike Alden, MU athletic director: "Our rivalry with Kansas is a very important thing to many people, but it certainly pales in comparison with what is taking place overseas, and this is the right thing to do."

"Border Showdown" will be used in the trophy competition sponsored by Midwest Ford Dealers that awards points to winners of head-to-head competitions between the two universities. The 2002-2003 year was the first for the competition, and the car dealers have agreed to sponsor it through 2006-2007.

But Chanay on Wednesday introduced a resolution to Student Senate that said the change was "blatantly over the top and far too politically correct." It also noted that the rivalry was called the "Border War" during other military conflicts.

"I thought it was ridiculous," he said. "We're trying so hard not to offend someone that we're willing to throw out tradition."

Chanay's resolution needs the approval of two committees to be sent to the full Student Senate. The Student Rights Committee approved the resolution, but the University Affairs Committee wanted more information and will consider it again Nov. 3.

Chanay said he hoped to contact Missouri student government representatives about presenting a similar resolution. Messages left Thursday at the MU Student Assn. office weren't returned.

"Taking a stance is the most important thing," Chanay said. "As students, we should be protecting our heritage and our tradition."

Jim Marchiony, a KU athletics spokesman, said his department hadn't been contacted by any students to discuss the change, but he didn't expect the decision to be reconsidered.

"The name has been changed, and while nobody has contacted us, we respect their opinion," Marchiony said. "But this was something we felt was important to do. Judging by the reaction we've gotten from some veterans, it was a good decision."

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