Pi Kappa Phi is pulling an all-nighter.
From 8 a.m. Wednesday to 8 a.m. today, the fraternity is â€œspreading the word to end the wordâ€ on prejudice against mental disabilities.
Their campaign to remove the â€œr-wordâ€ â€“â€“ retard or retarded â€“â€“ from everyday speech began from a 15-foot scaffold Wednesday morning with megaphone-armed brothers shouting their cause to passersby on the Lory Student Center Plaza.
As of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, the fraternity brothers had more 1,000 pledges on their banner, and an increasingly large smattering of people wandering campus wearing â€œI pledge to end the â€˜r-wordâ€™â€ stickers as a symbol of their dedication.
â€œWe keep having to run back to Kinkos to get more stickers,â€ said Pi Kappa Phi Chaplain Eli Armstrong, laughing.
The fraternity founded its philanthropy, Push America, in 1977. Push Americaâ€™s goals include â€œinstilling lifelong serviceâ€ in its members and â€œenhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities.â€
â€œPeople donâ€™t realize how bad, how offensive, the r-word is,â€ said Adam Hickman, Pi Kappa Phi member and English major.
Fellow fratter and construction management major Brian Roling agreed.
â€œThese are degrading words,â€ he said. â€œToday is a national event to say otherwise.â€
Movies like The Hangover, or the Black Eyed Peaâ€™s song â€œLetâ€™s Get Retarded,â€ discourage the movement with their â€œdemeaning matter,â€ Armstrong said.
â€œBut it really only takes a few people to facilitate change,â€ he said.
Today is a national event for Pi Kappa Phi, with support from organizations like the Special Olympic Committee and Best Buddies.
Former Gov. Sarah Palin is running a similar campaign to end derogatory language, which she calls a â€œslur on all Godâ€™s children with cognitive and developmental disabilities.â€
But despite the alteration to the Plaza skyline and the shouts of â€œend the r-word,â€ some CSU students just donâ€™t care.
â€œFrankly, I donâ€™t give a damn,â€ junior English major Aaron Alloya said as he walked past the display. â€œItâ€™s one more thing in the Plaza I donâ€™t need.â€
Staff writer Sara Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.