Against the Cougador


John Freitag

President Elson S. Floyd speaks with protesters at a rally against the “Cougador” masks in front of Wilson-Short Hall Thursday, Oct. 31.

Zack Briggs, Evergreen reporter

A sea of crimson and gray amassed the seats of Martin Stadium Halloween night as thousands of football-goers embraced the arctic-like temperatures wearing Latino inspired attire.

For representatives of student group Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A), it was an evening of protest against WSU Athletics’ distribution of ‘Cougador’ masks, which the group says degrades the Latino culture.

“Just say no to the Cougador,” M.E.Ch.A members chanted as they marched down the slope of Glenn Terrell Mall in route for Stadium Way.

Director of Athletics Bill Moos sent an email to M.E.Ch.A coordinator Jose Camacho Thursday, which said, “After careful thought and consideration, I have decided to proceed with the Cougador promotion for tonight’s game.”

Camacho said the one sentence response was a disappointment to a multi-week effort of collaboration with athletics department officials, ASWSU Senate and the Pullman community.

Despite the unfavorable outcome, Camacho said he does not view the rally as an endpoint for advocating against cultural appropriation; he sees it as a chance to expand M.E.Ch.A’s message beyond the WSU campus.

“Hopefully this shows that the student voice is powerful at some extent,” Camacho said. “I see this as an opportunity for administration to move forward and help us reach out to a larger community–whether it’s our alumni or future students.”

Prior to the beginning of the protest, WSU President Elson S. Floyd expressed his respect for M.E.Ch.A’s actions to heighten awareness of cultural appropriation. Floyd said he understood the group’s concerns and hopes to broaden multi-cultural appreciation at WSU in coming years. 

“I have an obligation to do everything I can to make this institution open and inviting and receptive to every student, faculty and staff that we have here,” Floyd said. “There’s a lot we can do together as we begin to talk about these types of issues into the future.”

Senior construction management major Cory Foss said he acknowledges M.E.Ch.A’s discontent with the ‘Cougador’ apparel. But at the end of the day, the masks and capes are nothing more than a way for fans to enjoy a football game, he said.

“It’s a Halloween costume,” Foss said. “You can get mad at other costumes for being racist to another group.”

WSU graduate Alex Fortune sees no problem with the luchador masks. It’s all about fun, he said.

“Sometimes I feel like we’re getting too politically correct on every little thing,” Fortune said. “If they can kind of laugh it off, have a good time, everything’s all good.”