The Tulane men’s ultimate Frisbee team leadership announced at the end of August that the team would officially change its name to Tulane “Tucks” Ultimate, following nearly a decade under the name Tulane “Rex” Ultimate. In a press release, the team said the name change was due to concerns about the Rex Organization's “problematic and racist history.”
Some team news: pic.twitter.com/MrK2cs7CFO— Tulane Tucks Ultimate (@TUultimate) August 28, 2019
“The Krewe has a problematic history rife with racism and privilege,” the team’s co-captain Sam Butler wrote in a Sept. 5 op-ed for the Tulane Hullabaloo. “It was started by rich New Orleans elites who made their money on the backs of slaves, and it didn’t integrate until 1991 — when it was forced to. It still holds galas with krewes who chose to disband rather than integrate. The list goes on.”
King Logan, a Rex Organization representative, declined to give a statement on the team's decision when reached by email.
Rex, one of the city’s oldest participating Mardi Gras krewes, was founded in 1872 and did not integrate until a 1991 city council ordinance forced krewes to adopt non-discriminatory policies in order to obtain parade permits. Some longtime krewes, like the Mystick Krewe of Comus and the Knights of Momus, opted out of parading rather than comply with the ordinance.
Rex and other parading krewes chose to comply with the city’s non-discriminatory ordinance. Since that decision, Rex has since admitted a number of African-American members. The Rex Organization’s Pro Bono Publico Foundation also has raised (from Rex members and local businesses led by Rex members) millions of dollars for local public schools serving predominantly African-American students.
Currently, Rex and Comus have separate balls but come together for the Meeting of the Courts, a celebration of the end of Carnival season.
Butler told Gambit that an alumnus of the team first brought up the idea of changing the team’s name back in March, and the team's leadership revisited it just before the school year started.
“We all met, and we decided pretty immediately that like, yeah, there's no reason not to change our name,” Butler said. The only barrier to changing our name really is getting the team on board, and we decided that they would be on board if we just went ahead and did it.”
Butler said the team leadership wanted to stick with the theme of being named after a Mardi Gras krewe because the Tulane women’s ultimate Frisbee team is named after the all-female Krewe of Muses.
They ultimately decided on the Krewe of Tucks, which was started in 1969 by several Loyola University students and is known for its toilet-themed throws. Its membership is 50% female and 50% male, according to its website.
“The Krewe of Tucks embodies an actual spirit of inclusiveness, listing their only requirement to join as wanting to ‘enjoy yourself, have a great time, and put on a magnificent show for the viewing crowd,’” Butler wrote. “Tucks truly preaches a spirit of welcoming and fun — a spirit that should be at the basis of our team.”
Butler told Gambit the response to the name change has been mostly positive — even from an alumni who had recently gotten a tattoo of the team’s old logo.
“When we announced it to the team, I was worried a little bit about how they would react,” he said. “But actually, they all reacted really positively. We walked them through our reasoning, and they all understood and were very much on board. So that made me really happy. It also made me really proud of our team.”
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The team leadership hopes that the new name can be a step in the right direction for promoting inclusivity and increasing diversity in the sport beginning at the university level, Butler said.
“I don't want to overstate what our name change is going to do for Frisbee, like it is what it is. It's a name change,” Butler said. “But I think that the first step for a lot of people in sort of striving towards equity is acknowledging privilege.”
The team’s name change prompted another op-ed in the Hullabaloo yesterday, criticizing the Tulane administration for not yet changing the name of F. Edward Hebert Hall after its Undergraduate Student Government passed a resolution to do so in 2017. The building, named after a segregationist, houses the university’s Center for Academic Equity, Africana Studies program and Department of History.
In the article, a Tulane spokesperson said the gift agreement with the building requires the university to keep its name.