Parade hits the brakes

Lesa Jarding

Lesa Jarding

An enraged professor tapped the brakes on the entire Hobo Day Parade Oct. 28 by blocking a float he believed broke rules barring political entries.

While a compromise was worked out on-the-spot, the organizations involved have since complained, saying the parade’s policy just isn’t good enough.

Microbiology professor Scott Pedersen was at the wheel of a yellow pickup serving as a float for a new student group called Skeptics, Agnostics, Atheists, Freethinkers, and Empiricists, or SAAFE. The organization has provisional status as a student organization. According to its Facebook profile, it is set up to “promote science and freethinking.”

But when Pedersen noticed the Brookings Right to Life float, he stopped his pickup, putting it squarely in the path of the anti-abortion float. He then got out of the pickup and approached the Right to Life group.

“Basically, he refused to move,” said Alex Brown, a senior political science major who was riding in a float just behind Pedersen’s pickup. “I could tell he was yelling. I did see him strike the side of the float with his hand. And he was yelling about ‘Why they were even here, why would they let them be here.'”

Parade officials, including Marysz Rames, vice president of student affairs, were quickly on the scene to deal with the problem. After some heated discussion, a deal was struck. The Right to Life float would paper over statements considered out-of-bounds. And after some further discussion, Pedersen and his pickup-truck float were allowed back in the parade.

According to the parade policy, floats can be entered into the parade only by recognized SDSU organizations or by community service organizations.

In a written statement, Pedersen said he didn’t believe SDSU was officially supporting “Pro-life/Pro-republican causes.” But, he said, “an SDSU-sanctioned parade official offered tacit support to Pro-life and Pro-republican campaign efforts through the differential application of their own parade rules.”

Rames disagreed completely.

“The parade and decisions made had nothing to do with taking a political stand. Decisions that were made came down to making sure all entries were compliant with the parade policies,” she said.

“I think the UPC and students involved with the organizations were very responsible. I applaud their actions and their response to being compliant.”

The policy also caused some last minute decisions to be made by organizations already approved to take part in the Hobo Day Parade.

“On Friday afternoon, we were asked to make a decision in less than two hours on whether or not we were going to take part in the parade,” said Jacks for Life President Takara Hrdlicka.

“The Grand Pooba Sarah French was contacted by another organization that was questioning our participation because of the name of our organization.”

“We’ve been approved as a campus organization for over a year now,” said Hrdlicka. “We took part in activities throughout the week and were looking forward to taking time off from campaigning to join other groups on campus to celebrate homecoming and show our school spirit. Our float had no political motives at all, that wasn’t our intention.”

Tom Klosterman, a member of Brookings Right to Life, whose float was stopped by Pedersen’s actions, said there needs to be a change in the policy of what can be in the parade.

“I don’t think the students that created the policy realize it’s pretty limited,” he said. “It seems like the students weren’t comfortable with it.”

“Hobo Day is a time to celebrate the school’s homecoming and that’s the goal of the Hobo Day Committee,” said UPC adviser Nick Wendell.

Rames said the students did their job.

“Nick and the Hobo Day Committee worked really hard to make sure all entries were treated equally,” said Rames.

The committee, Wendell and Rames plan to sit down and review the current parade policies to make changes they feel will improve the parade.

No official word yet on what those changes may be.

#1.884039:4110551614.jpg:Pedersen 1.jpg:Another view of the pick-up used to temporarily block an anti-abortion Hobo Day Parade float Oct. 28:#1.884038:2411878750.jpg:Pedersen 3.jpg:The pick-up used to temporarily block an anti-abortion Hobo Day Parade float Oct. 28.: