SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga's Kennel Club - the school's official student section group - is asking its members to not wear costumes that mock the Mormon religion to Saturday's men's basketball game against BYU, the university owned by the Mormon church.
It's an unofficial tradition but when the BYU Cougars visit the Bulldogs in Spokane, some students dress up in white shirts, black ties, and bike helmets to poke fun at Mormon missionaries.
This year Gonzaga is asking its students to reconsider what they wear.
Students dressing up in costumes is nothing new at Gonzaga games,
"The most common one is the Mormon missionary costumes," said Kennel Club President Claire Murphy. "They've got white shirts, the tie, bike helmets, that kind of stuff."
Those costumes haven't sat well with some Zag fans, like Murphy, who questions why some students at a Jesuit institution aren't more sensitive of other religions.
Murphy wrote an email to students which in read in part: EVERY YEAR WE HEAR FROM ALUMNI, STUDENTS, FACULTY, STAFF, AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS THAT SAY THESE COSTUMES MAKE A MOCKERY OF THEIR FAITH AND DO NOT REFLECT THE GONZAGA THEY KNOW AND LOVE.
Saturday's game will be nationally televised and the school is asking students to not wear missionary attire.
"I think it's important to be cautious of other people's religion and be cautious of the school's image but at the same time I think it's a fun tradition that's gone on at Gonzaga," said sophomore student Jay Fitzgerald.
"For the most part it's kind of just like a joke," said sophomore student Nick Heintz. "But I believe we should respect other people's point of views and like what they believe in."
"I didn't even know we did that," said student Max Ramos.
The request isn't just out of respect for the visitors, but also for members of the Gonzaga community who identify as LDS themselves, such as freshman guard Jesse Wade recently finished up a two-year mission for the LDS church.
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