By Megan Brewer —
“Papa John’s” was removed from our football stadium name after John Schnatter’s use of the N-word in a conference call with Papa John’s executives and a marketing agency.
President Neeli Bendapudi wasn’t messing around in getting his name off and had it removed in less than two days.
Removing Schnatter’s name from Cardinal Stadium was a bold move by Bendapudi, one that makes me proud to have her as my president.
“Papa John’s” is all over U of L’s campuses. Even Schnatter himself was on the board of trustees until he resigned over this incident.
Bendapudi even removed Schnatter’s name from the Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise, to which Schnatter’s foundation donated $4.64 million.
Bendapudi is proving herself and showing students we can believe in what she’s saying.
“I absolutely give you my word. To me, it’s putting students first. It’s so important for any university. It’s the purpose for why we exist,” Bendapudi said. “I don’t know what happens along the way to people, but as long as you remain true to the mission and say ‘I’m here to serve,’ I think we’ll be in good shape.”
That’s exactly what she did, she put us, the students, first. She put the university as a whole and all of our values first.
“[We must] rebuild trust, rebuild confidence among some people who might have said ‘We’re not quite sure,’” Bendapudi said on her first day as president on May 15.
Bendapudi capitalizes diversity and by removing Schnatter’s name she’s showing just this. She’s proving she is a president that’s going to take action and give people a reason to say “I am sure.”
The only question is, will this be the cause of another lawsuit for U of L? We can only hope not. U of L can’t afford another lawsuit.
Bendapudi said Papa John’s is understanding of the situation and is eager to work with U of L, however the financial cost to the university is still being determined.
Schnatter wasn’t a large help during U of L’s financial crisis last year. In 2016, he donated $47.8 million. Some cash came from Papa John’s but nenrly half came from Schnatter’s own pockets.
However, in 2017, Papa John’s only donated $117,182, and Schnatter pitched $0 personally.
If Schnatter decides to sue, it could mean the loss of big bucks for the university, but it’s worth it to keep U of L far away from racist behavior.
Removing his name from campus shows Bendapudi has no tolerance for anything that jeopardizes diversity, and we applaud her for that.
File Photo by Wade Morgen / The Louisville Cardinal