Our March 23, 2017 editorial lamented the creation of a Chief Diversity Officer position at the University of Wyoming largely because of the cost associated with adding such a position— and whatever employees are required to staff that particular office.
Little did we know that the position— or at least the university mind set that resulted in the creation of it— would prove costly to this community in another way only three months later.
A week ago, this newspaper ran a story promoting a free performance of the long-running Broadway musical, “The Fantasticks,” presented by the UW Department of Theatre and Dance. Our page nine story was based largely on a press release issued by UW to inform the community of the free performance that was scheduled for this Wednesday, and to boast that local students were going to reap the added benefit of attending a pair of workshops put on by the college theatre group.
We’re sorry to inform you that the production and accompanying workshops were suddenly cancelled by UW this week after a Native American group objected to some of the content of the play that was originally produced in 1960. According to published reports, students who were attending the university’s Native American Summer Institute walked out during the intermission of a performance in Laramie last Thursday because they believed, “the show especially demeans Native American cultures with outdated stereotypes of Native American appropriation by non-native actors wearing headdresses/warbonnets,” according to a statement by the United Multicultural Council that also objected to the portrayal of “Native American and Latino/Hispanic characters as the villains or antagonists of the show.”
Unfortunately, UW did not issue another press release announcing the cancellation of the performance in Newcastle and three others that had been scheduled around Wyoming, and we only knew the show had been scrapped because Community Recreation Director Jessica Bettorf informed the public on social media. While we obviously object to the fact that the university took it upon itself to impose its version of “diversity” on our community and take away an opportunity for artistic enrichment that many of us would have greatly enjoyed, we are even more insulted by the fact that the school lacked the courage to issue a press release announcing the cancellations and justifying their reasons for doing so to the communities that they chose to abandon.
“The Fantasticks” closed this month in New York City after having appeared on stage a reported 21,552 times, and we can’t believe the university was willing to abandon the investment that had been made in the performance because one group of individuals protested the content they viewed when it appeared for the 21,553rd time. It is hard to argue that the cost of “diversity” may indeed be higher than society can bear when artistic liberty and freedom of speech are sacrificed this quickly over a complaint this foolish. Once again, the University of Wyoming seems to have shunned the ideals of the people of this state in an effort to emulate the practices of universities in other parts of the country, and at some point that has to stop being alright with the taxpayers who support the school and send their children there.