Marist College continues to rebuff calls from angry students and alumni to cancel a scheduled basketball game at Duke University over North Carolina’s controversial “bathroom law”.
In a statement released this week, the New York school defended its decision to play at Duke by noting that going ahead with the game was “in no way lending its support to the discriminatory North Carolina law known as HB2.”
Marist’s top spokesman, Greg Cannon, reiterated this defense in an interview with the Poughkeepsie Journal. “The decision to play this basketball game does not diminish in any way our support for the LGBT community,” he said. “It also doesn’t equate to a show of support for this regressive law.”
Cannon added that playing Duke, a perennial basketball powerhouse, is a great way for smaller school teams to gain exposure and experience. “We recognize and appreciate where people are coming from,” Cannon said. “We can’t convince all of them that they should be on board with it, but we want to do our best to help them understand why we’re doing this.”
A number of Marist students and alumni have expressed displeasure with the school’s decision not to take part in broader efforts to boycott the state of North Carolina over HB2, which requires individuals to use public restroom facilities that correspond to the gender on their birth certificates. Critics argue the law discriminates against transgender individuals.
One alumnus, Joseph Amodeo, published an open letter to Marist president David Yellen in the Huffington Post, arguing that the school’s decision to keep the game on its schedule demonstrated a “blatant disregard or ignorance of the discrimination taking place in North Carolina” and stood “in stark contrast to the college’s mission statement.”
As Marist officials have pointed out, Duke is a private university and is therefore not bound to abide by HB2. Duke’s legendary rat-faced coach, Mike Krzyzewski, has criticized HB2 as “an embarrassing bill.”
Marist, which is located in New York, is also a private institution and is therefore not subject to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state-imposed travel boycott of North Carolina, which applies to public institutions such as the University of New York at Albany. That school announced in July that it would not play against Duke.
That same month, the NBA decided to withdraw the 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte, N.C., in protest of the bathroom law, which the league said violated its “long-standing core values.” Congressman Robert Pittenger (R., N.C.) criticized the NBA’s decision, noting that the league had sponsored games in countries such as Russia and China in the past, where the LGBT community has considerably fewer rights than they do in North Carolina.