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'Robot march' to protest Iowa's pink locker room

Published August 31, 2014 6:44 pm

College football • Iowa professor among critics who say it's essentially a school-sanctioned taunt that exudes homophobia and sexism.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Iowa City, Iowa • A University of Iowa professor who donned a robot costume to heckle Bill Clinton and Michele Bachmann has now set his sights on one of his school's famous quirks: the visiting team's pink locker room at Kinnick Stadium.

Kembrew McLeod is organizing what he jokingly calls a "Million Robot March" to coincide with an annual celebration Friday honoring legendary Iowa football coach Hayden Fry, who had the opposing team's locker room painted pink in 1979. McLeod wants the school to ditch the pink, which he says amounts to a school-sanctioned taunt that exudes homophobia and sexism.

Fry has said pink is a calming color meant to make Hawkeyes' opponents passive. But he also noted in his biography that it was the color of little girls' bedrooms and some considered it for sissies. The tactic has rattled some opposing coaches, with the late University of Michigan coach Bo Schembechler having student managers put white paper over the walls.

The paint became part of Hawkeye lore. A 2005 renovation added pink across brick walls and shower floors and installed pink metal lockers, carpeting, sinks, showers and urinals.

Many opposing players have shrugged off the color, with Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner recently calling it the best locker room in the conference because of its spaciousness.

Some feminists, lawyers, gay rights activists and editorial boards have criticized the gimmick over the past decade. But previous protests, including a longstanding threat of a discrimination lawsuit, haven't changed anything.

Fans have generally opposed the various efforts to get the color changed, saying it's a tradition that isn't meant to be a gender-based putdown.






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