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Letter: On speech and Fresno State’s ‘pervasive’ boosters

By: Dan Waterhouse

I read your editorial about what not to do when the next Twitter incident happens and chuckled. Like professor Randa Jarrar, I’ve been attacked, yea, even threatened by Fresno State “supporters.” In my case, the attacks occur whenever I say anything critical of the athletic program.

I was a firm supporter of the sports program until I worked for Recreation-Intramurals in the late 1980s and later spent time with university police. Through those experiences I learned how pervasive “booster” influence was on campus. Both the athletic department and the Bulldog Foundation hated to see my letters in the Fresno Bee back then. The athletic director tried to force my boss at Recreation-Intramurals to fire me because of my letters in the Bee.

Through the years, I kept a close eye on the program. So much so that I was disqualified from jury duty in an armed robbery case (where the defendant was a football player) in 1996. However the real root of the “boosters” hatred of me stems from Title IX. I supported the federal investigation in the early 1990s and later supported the coaches who sued Fresno State in the 2000s. To the “boosters” I’m a “Title IX defender” who hates all men’s sports.

More recently, the “boosters” have pushed for substantial student fee increases to help bankroll the athletic department. I’m absolutely opposed to the idea. Dr. Castro has assured me he will not impose any campus fees students haven’t voted for.

It seems some of the athletic supporters fear I have some influence over Dr. Joseph Castro. A couple of weekends ago, a “booster” ranted at me (again) online about my supposed influence. The guy cried that “the chain has to be broken” and that I must be kept off campus. He made a threat to me and Dr. Castro that he would stop alumni contributions until I was banned from Fresno State.

Compared to some of the threats I’ve gotten over the years, that was fairly mild. There’ve been thinly-veiled threats of bodily harm on a semi-regular basis, and an occasional death threat from the less-well-balanced “fans.”

Frankly, I expect that many of the people who attack me are the same ones attacking Jarrar. I have absolutely no use for anyone who threatens Fresno State, Dr. Castro, or any staff or faculty member. As far as I’m concerned, they’re not welcome on campus.

Dan Waterhouse is a Fresno State student. He also writes The Collegian’s Campus Column, which prints on Wednesdays.