Bonfire event deemed distasteful

By Rebekah Frank, Staff Writer

The Community Bonfire and Pep Rally on Oct. 30 brought mixed feelings when the Cheney fire department threw an effigy of the University of North Dakota into the fire.

Mike Winters, Cheney’s fire chief, said in an email the effigy was a stuffed paper suit of a person wearing a University of North Dakota jersey.

While most people standing around the bonfire cheered when the effigy was thrown into the flames, some attendees did not agree with it. Cheney community member Kelly Cullen said the fact that the effigy was a person is what made her uneasy about it.

“That’s kind of on the borderline of distasteful,” said Cullen.

Senior Erin Varner said she agreed with Cullen’s point.

“I don’t know if I agree with [burning it] just because I feel like it is not very [good] sportsmanship,” said Varner.

Charles Mutschler, JFK library university archivist said the burning of the effigy is nothing new. He said Eastern has been burning effigies at the bonfire since the 1950s.

Though feelings toward burning the effigy were split, everyone in attendance showed their support for Eastern at the Pep Rally. This was evident when students, faculty and community members gathered around the EWU marching band, cheerleaders and Swoop to shout the EWU fight song.

The audience then gave a welcome applause to the new Mr. Eastern, Bryce Dressler, and Ms. Eastern, Sapna Basy. The applause then turned to cheering as the head coach for the football team, Beau Baldwin, took the stand.

Baldwin introduced the senior captains on the team and then gave a short speech about the team’s game plan for the Nov. 1 game. Almost everyone in attendance began screaming as Baldwin said the team was going to play their best and leave everything on the field.

After that announcement, the audience was ready to light the bonfire. At the encouragement of ASEWU President Dahir “D.J.” Jigre, nearly everyone in attendance began shouting “light it up,” and the Cheney Fire Department responded by lighting the stacks of pallets. The flames reached the top of telephone poles as people gathered around to warm up and take pictures.

After about five minutes, people could hear the sound of emergency sirens drawing near. A fire truck stopped just short of the fire. One Cheney Firefighter emerged with an effigy As everyone around the fire cheered, the firefighter threw the effigy into the flames.

Even though Varner said she did not agree with the burning of the mascot, she still enjoyed the community bonfire.

“I love it. I just love seeing the fire, it’s really pretty,” said Varner. “It gathers everyone from the school, usually you don’t get a lot of people outside of school gathering except for football games.”

Varner said most people in Cheney do not get involved in the college events because they think it will be too much of a party scene. She said she enjoyed the fact the community members come to the bonfire.

Cullen, who was in attendance with her family, said she was glad to attend the event. She also said her son told her that the event was the best day ever.

“I think this is fabulous. I think spirit week in general is a great way to top it off to get ready for our football game on Saturday,” said Cullen. “Cheney is such a college town and so people that live here, like me, we enjoy taking part in this with the college students celebrating the university.”