A school district in western Wisconsin is changing the new name of their revamped gym after it led to an online uproar – and accusations of racism.
The gym at Meyer Middle School, which is in River Falls, was recently renamed the "Roger T. White - Pride Fitness Room as Presented by RCU," in honor of two donors who had contributed money to replace 20-year-old exercise equipment – the family of Mr. White (a deceased community member who'd graduated from the school district) and the Royal Credit Union.
As you can probably imagine, folks on the Internet did not take kindly to the "White - Pride" portion of the title. And according to EAG News, "Facebook hecklers" ultimately convinced the River Falls School District to change it to – well, something a little better.
According to a Facebook update the district posted on Thursday, they're "revising the name immediately" to the "Roger T. White Wildcat Fitness Room," or, alternately, the "Roger T. White - Fitness Room as Presented by RCU."
The district also emphatically dispelled any notions that the previous name – which was decided upon by the school board – was motivated by white supremacy, saying, "Any suggestion of racism, discrimination, or cultural insensitivity in the fitness room's title was wholly inadvertant. (sic)"
They acknowledged why the name was so poorly received, however, writing: "We can see and understand how the new name ... could be viewed by some people as implying 'White Pride.'"
Before the Internet backlash and before the name was withdrawn, Chuck Eaton, a local principal and a member of the committee who helped raise funds for the new and improved gym, told the River Falls Journal he was "thrilled" with the name, and according to the paper, predicted it would "likely be shortened to the White Pride Fitness Room," which he says is "attached to a good role model for the kids who use the room."
As EAG News points out, the situation sparked a debate among Facebook commenters, with some saying the district had gone too far, and others complaining that removing the name was a politically correct overreaction.
Some social media comments below show the surprise and skepticism with which users reacted to the story: