San Diego State students popularized the practice of dressing up as LDS missionaries when BYU came to town, and some Gonzaga students have taken the baton and continued the tradition.
With LDS Returned Missionary Jesse Wade (Davis High School alumnus; Kaysville, Utah) now on Gonzaga’s roster, however, an assistant dean at the University of Gonzaga has urged students to avoid dressing up as missionaries.
According to a story published by gonzagabulletin.com, Colleen Vanderboom, assistant dean of Student Involvement and Leadership, has worked with Gonzaga’s student section to end the practice of students dressing as missionaries.
“[Those costumes don’t] really represent who we are as a university and it shines bad on us and doesn’t show a welcoming community that supports everybody,” Colleen Vanderboom told the bulletin. “So every year it has come up and we have been talking a lot with Kennel Club and they agree — it’s not cool.”
The Bulletin also reports that the Kennel Board, Gonzaga’s student section leadership board, will send an email to the GU community “encouraging those who plan on attending the BYU game to dress appropriately.”
Eric Wade, father of Gonzaga guard Jesse Wade, addressed The Bulletin’s article in an Instagram post. His account is private, but he gave Vanquish the Foe permission to share the post:
Here's what Jesse Wade's father had to say about the administration asking students to not dress as missionaries: pic.twitter.com/bUyb8wbGPt— Robby McCombs (@rtmccombs) January 30, 2018
Here is his message in full:
“With the BYU-Gonzaga basketball game coming up this Saturday in Spokane, The Gonzaga Bulletin, a student-run weekly newspaper reported “Gonzaga administration calling on students to rethink Mormon missionary costumes at BYU game. (Link to article in my bio)” The article further goes on to say “While talks of change have been happening for seven years, Colleen Vanderboom, Assistant Dean of Student Involvement and Leadership, admits that having Jesse Wade, a member of the LDS Church who went on a mission last year, joining the men’s basketball team was a catalyst for action.” “When we learned that Wade had been recruited to come here, we had to be legit. Like OK, we have been talking about it enough and now, not only is it embarrassing, but it’s like, really? He’s one of our community members.” As a family, we have seen students dressing up as mormon missionaries to mock the missionary program of the church at many different schools, Gonzaga included, and even though it doesn’t bother or offend us, we wish it wouldn’t happen. Seeing the Gonzaga administration and Gonzaga Kennel Club re-emphasizing this now means a lot to us and gives us just one more reason to be proud to be a part of the Zag family. We are proud of Jesse for dedicating two years of his life to serve as a missionary for the church in France, and I am grateful for the two years I served my mission in Sydney, Australia. We are grateful to the nearly 70,000 missionaries worldwide currently serving, as well as the many more who have served missions in the past. #GoZags #UnitedWeZag#ZagNation #MormonZag”
BYU takes on Gonzaga Saturday night at 8pm MST in the Kennel.