clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Otto’s Army boycott could continue Saturday as Syracuse players show support

Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim supported the protestors and Otto’s Army planned boycott. But students still filled the section, wanting to support the team.

About 30 minutes before the Colgate Raiders and Syracuse Orange tipped-off, SU’s student section only seated 14 people. The Dome remained largely unfilled until minutes before the game, per usual for a November non-conference game after a rough loss. It would be difficult to tell if Otto’s Army — SU’s student section — would empty in protest or apathy for the game.

Then several hundred students filled into the rows near Syracuse’s bench as refs tossed the ball up. Otto’s Army announced a boycott of the Colgate game at 4 p.m., three hours before it began. Word spread and representatives for Otto’s Army stood by the entry gate, alerting students to the boycott. They tried to inform them about the racist graffiti found at Day Hall, the ongoing protests next door and the importance of showing solidarity.

Some left, some chose to attend anyway, underscoring a difficult week for communication across campus. The incident at Day Hall went unannounced for nearly one week, and protests emerged spontaneously. Administrators reportedly told students at Day not to spread information about it. Renegade Magazine, a campus publication, revealed the incident on Monday after residents reported it last Wednesday night.

That gap also hit Syracuse’s locker room, who had a week off after Virginia. Quincy Guerrier and Howard Washington did not know all the details, others showed sympathy for the students after Jim Boeheim defended administration’s response.

“I stand with them,” Elijah Hughes said. “They got a right to do that kind of stuff and I wish what happened didn’t happen, but it’s kind of the world we live in and it sucks. It really sucks that we have to see this stuff on this campus that we call home, second home for some of us and we live there. So I stand with them. I have to be here to play, but if I wasn’t an athlete I’d probably be with them too.”

NCAA Basketball: Colgate at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Otto’s Army’s decision began during the formulation of “Not Again SU” by various campus groups, including Renegade. The group proposed a basketball game protest as a response to the delayed administration reaction, which Kent Syverud later apologized for, among other concerns. They settled on a Barnes Center sit-in, which began on Wednesday morning and is still ongoing.

“Not Again SU” announced to campus on Thursday night they will continue to protest until administration affirms their demands in writing with implementation plans.

Kennedy Hagens and the Otto’s Army leaders discussed how they would support the protestors early on Wednesday. While Syverud and other administration members shuffled into Barnes throughout the day and fielded a variety of concerns and demands, they proposed boycotting the game. Not Again SU committed to staying at Barnes until 1 a.m. and, with a 7 p.m. tip, Otto’s Army decided that students would be better serving their classmates by avoiding the Dome and going next door.

So Otto’s Army tweeted plans to boycott the Colgate game. They posted members up at the student entrance, trying to redirect students to Barnes to keep the student section clear. Ultimately, it filled with students who struggled to connect the protest to the basketball game. Three of them, seated in the front rows behind the basket, said they didn’t feel like the basketball players did anything wrong.

Buddy Boeheim learned of the boycott attempt in the locker room, saying he heard about the Day news. His father defended Syracuse’s response to the incident in the locker room, while condemning the act and its perpetrators.

“Whatever (Otto’s Army) think is best,” Buddy said. “The best solution will come from that. It’s unacceptable. So whatever they think is the best outcome, I support too. You love when the students come to support you, but when it comes to stuff like that you’ve got to understand.”

As some students tried to move on by watching Syracuse defeat Colgate 70-54, the Barnes protestors decided to spend the entire night there as food donations spilled in. A sleep-in occurred after the facility closed at 1 a.m., and by 4 a.m. campus received an email: a drawing insulting Asian people was reported at the Physics Building. The next afternoon, someone drew a swastika in a snowbank blocks from Syracuse’s Jewish organizations.

Forums, fear and anger raged into Thursday night, and with a game against Seattle slated at the Dome on Saturday, Otto’s Army is not backing down from its stance. Until the protestors go home satisfied with SU’s response, they won’t participate in games.

Many of the members missed their first basketball game on Wednesday. They’ll boycott again on Saturday if necessary, with a new plan to educate and route fans to the most urgent matter on the hill.

“Ultimately, that came down to whether or not students felt that it was an important cause and we can’t force you to not go to the game,” Hagens said. “All of us were a little disappointed.”