Cornell Football coach under fire for ‘cultural appropriation’ tweet

He posted a picture of two football players wearing a sombrero

A photo of two football players wearing a sombrero in the locker room has caused controversy on Cornell’s campus today.

The picture, tweeted by football coach Roy Istvan, was captioned “Eman & Fosta! THE BIG SOMBRERO!”

MECha de Cornell, a group that represents Chicanx students has since accused Coach Istvan of cultural appropriation.

Posting on the MECha group, Silvia Treviño and Matthew Indimine expressed disgust at the university for not acting on the incident, and called for “cultural sensitivity training” for the staff involved.

The now deleted tweet, retweeted by Cornell’s official account

Treviño said: “So many of your fellow students’ culture is being used as a prop consistently on this campus and it is supported publicly by this university.

“Will you pass a proposition to recommend a faculty/staff diversity and cultural sensitivity training? Or will you just push it under the rug as you did the Cinco de Octubre event? I expect a response to this from the Minority Liaison.”

Indimine added: “Absolutely embarrassed to attend a university that publicly (or not publicly) supports this, and hope to work collaboratively to ensure that university communications, and all staff and faculty, receive much needed diversity and cultural sensitivity training.”

However, other members of the Cornell community disagreed with this stance.

Gustavo Dorsett, a member of the Big Red football team from El Paso, Texas, said: “I am having trouble seeing how this in any way is so offensive, if I showed this picture to my family in Mexico they would certainly laugh and be excited that our team incorporates a part of the Mexican heritage in celebrating our player awards.

“This is being blown up by sensitive people on social media who aren’t even of relevance to the Mexican culture.”

Steven Rodriguez questioned the entire idea that the photo was offensive at all, asking: “Where in this photo and caption are they being racially insensitive? There are no racially insensitive descriptions. If I took a photo wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots, would you have the same reaction? Don’t think so.”

Nonetheless, in lieu of the controversy surrounding the photo, Coach Istvan deleted his post, and later tweeted: “I award the big hat to team members who represent the best teamwork and winning spirit on and off the field.

“I am truly sorry for the cultural insensitivity.and understand how our expression of pride came at the expensive of others in the Cornell community.”

We have contacted Cornell Athletics for a comment. They are yet to respond.

So what do you think? Was the photo cultural appropriation or just a harmless award given out on a football team? Message our Facebook page if you’d like to write a response.