Following an internal review, the University of Washington announced in a statement Tuesday that its head dance coach has been removed. The UW Spirit dance coach — Jordan French — was a part-time employee of the university, a UW spokesperson confirmed.
The university statement concluded that “the tryout process has not adequately taken into account important factors. Therefore, the department has extended an invitation to two veteran members to rejoin the team, and will work to develop methods of ensuring that future team-selection processes need to include a number of factors including: years of service, diversity and commitment to the program.”
The “two veteran members” are UW students Kennedy Greer and Katia Lucas. In a Facebook post last week, Jana Greer — Kennedy’s mother — wrote that French told both Greer and Lucas that they had not made the team because “I just could not see it on the big screen.” Jana Greer also wrote that 12 of 14 veterans were invited to return, and the two that weren’t — Kennedy Greer and Katia Lucas — were the only two African Americans.
“They had 2 women of color that have danced their entire lives and have the dance skills required,” Jana Greer wrote in the Facebook post. “These women have represented the UW for 2 and 3 years just fine, and all of (a) sudden they just can’t be seen on the Big Screen.”
Both Jana and Kennedy Greer declined interview requests on Tuesday afternoon. Kennedy Greer confirmed in an Instagram post that she has since rejoined the UW dance team.
“I have spoken to so many members of the UW athletic department and they were nothing but AMAZING TO ME,” Kennedy Greer wrote on Instagram. “After the investigation was done they called me and let me know that they welcome me back on the team and they want me BACK ON THE TEAM! So I just want to say THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART for every single person who advocated for me; this would not have happened without you.
“I know that some people feel as though the team was diverse and they are correct there are Hawaiians, Asians, Hispanics, and so much more and they get the opportunity to represent their culture beautifully. But who was going to represent the little (Black) girls? And that’s where the problem was. So I hope no one on the team felt as though their culture wasn’t being heard. I would like to thank EVERYONE who shared and reposted and all the UW athletes that reached out and spoke up.”
Kennedy Greer also specifically thanked UW president Ana Mari Cauce “for noticing my story” and athletic director Jen Cohen “for hearing me and creating a change.”
In a separate statement on Tuesday, Cohen wrote: “The UW spirit programs are long-standing, valued traditions at Washington, and we believe these changes will allow our spirit programs to best serve our campus community moving forward as a prized part of the UW tradition. I apologize for the hurt that this situation has caused for the students involved, and I’m confident that these changes will allow us to best serve our students and the campus we represent as we collectively work to get better.”
The UW Spirit cheer and dance team previously received criticism in 2016 after it shared an infographic on Facebook advising women how to look in upcoming tryouts. The graphic included a photo of a white woman with blond hair posing in shorts and a sports bra. It encouraged a “bronze, beachy glow” and “girl about town lipstick” and discouraged “dark, smokey eyes,” “nude lips,” “too much makeup,” “visible tattoos” and “jewelry of any kind.”
The infographic was removed after the department “determined that some of the details and descriptions provided were inconsistent with the values of the UW Spirit program and department of athletics.”
On Instagram, Kennedy Greer concluded her statement on Tuesday by writing the following:
“One thing I would also like to acknowledge is that EVERY race supported me through this, and that in itself is beautiful. Change is coming. I’m a girl from Lacey WA who never thought people would hear me. But you all heard me and fought for me.
“To all the little ones that look like me in the world, I WILL NOT LET YOU DOWN! I promise I will work hard, and I will represent you well. BLACK LIVES MATTER Forever and always.”