Dear President Krise, Athletic Staff and Friends of PLU,
TI have recently learned of a movement within the PLU administration which revolves around the use of the term EMAL (Every Man a Lute) that has been and is the cornerstone of PLU Football since Dr. Forrest Westering coined the phrase as early as 1972. I am saddened to learn that some have chosen to take issue with the term EMAL citing that it is non inclusive and that it somehow insinuates masculinity and is therefore exclusionary of female participation.
The word “man” in Webster’s references the term humankind which includes both males and females of the species. I knew Dr. Forrest “Frosty” Westering very well. He was an extremely intelligent man. He earned a PHD in psychology and used his knowledge to become a legendary football coach devoting his life to PLU and the athletic programs here. The phrase Every Man A Lute embodied the entire student population of PLU. It was not gender specific any more than the term mankind is gender specific. Arriving at the conclusion that EMAL implies gender specificity and is therefore offensive is to misunderstand the compassion for all people and the pension for excellence through teamwork that its author intended. One could choose to misinterpret this but you have to ask yourself why would they? Before anyone takes offense to the term EMAL, let me suggest that they read up on the legend that is Frosty Westering. There are hundreds upon hundreds of articles, books and sources on this subject and as Lutes we are fortunate to have had him in our rich PLU heritage. Mr. President, you stated in the Mast article on this subject that “It’s hard to carry out our mission statement if we are not deliberately trying to include everybody.” Did you really mean what you said? This is a statement that no reasonable person would disagree with least of all Dr. Frosty Westering. Are you including the generations of EMAL alumni that he taught and coached in your statement? EMAL is a tradition that I know well and is one that you and every Lute should be proud of. I had success as a Lute largely because I believed the fundamental concept of EMAL which was team before self in all things. Dr. Westering often reminded us of a simple concept ”there is no I in TEAM” and I would offer that there is no I in EMAL either. I have pursued my goals as a Lute, raised my family and run my businesses in the EMAL tradition and have experienced successes that I never thought possible. Hundreds of Alumni have carried this concept forward and taught and coached countless thousands of youth in these rich traditions. EMAL is a simple phrase yet it transcends the local campus and is much bigger than a word on a shirt. Mr. President, you are new to the University and I can understand how this could be underemphasized so let me be clear, blotting out those four letters on a T-shirt is effectively turning your back on a legacy that has been the hallmark of athletics at PLU since I can remember. My family is fourth generation PLU and I can tell you that changing the phrase in any way from its original form would imply that you know better than its author, some pretty big shoes to fill and I believe it would amount to a slap in the face of not just football alumni but a very large number of alumni from all backgrounds going back as far as 1972.
EMAL is something the university should embrace and when questioned about its meaning our administration should boldly and proudly explain who its author was and what he meant when he coined the phrase. Systematically chipping away at the traditions that make up the foundation of the
PLU experience have and will only result in alienating generations of alumni that have passed through the university and onto successful careers while robbing current students of a tradition that has impacted so many students in a positive way. It is my belief that redacting EMAL is not a path that will be productive for the university culture, its programs or its donors. I very strongly suggest that you discuss this matter in great depth and include as many current students, athletes and former athletes and alumni as you can reach before deleting 44 years of legacy from our history. Simply holding a small forum of locals and activists next Thursday, before making a decision that will monumentally affect the university would be irresponsible and I suggest that you give this matter the due diligence that it deserves.
PLU Alumni ◼︎