The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

Cheerleaders file bias report


Members of Dickinson’s cheer team recently filed a Bias Education and Response Team (BERT) report after changes to the team’s cheer routines led to a conflict with the Athletics Department. Since the incident, the majority of the team has quit.

The complaint follows what some cheerleaders called a biased response by athletics to the incorporation of “stomp and shake” cheers, a traditionally Black cheer style, into the team’s repertoire. Director of Athletics Joel Quattrone allegedly threatened to disband the team after a disagreement about their cheers following the Jan. 27 men’s basketball game. 

Several members of the team confirmed that after being given permission by Associate AD Dave Webster to perform their stomp and shake cheers in the bleachers during that game, Quattrone ordered them to reduce the space they took up in the stands, which they did. Later, however, the cheerleaders said Quattrone condemned them for refusing to follow his instructions and called them poor role models and examples for the community. 

Cheer has not performed at a Dickinson event since the Jan. 27 basketball game, and captain Katarina Swendrowski ’24 has stepped down. Both Swendrowski and Mary Stanley ’25, the team’s new captain, declined to comment.

Quattrone, whose June retirement as athletic director was announced on Feb. 1, also declined to comment on the ongoing investigation, but stated that the cheer team was never told they could not cheer at additional basketball games during the semester.

One cheerleader who quit the team after the conflict with athletics spoke to The Dickinsonian under the condition of anonymity. She believes the backlash from the athletic department reflects a bias towards white styles of expression. “Stomp and shake is a traditional cheer–it’s just a Black tradition,” she said. 

After cheer coaches suggested they should avoid introducing the stomp and shake style into their cheers all at once, and opt for a more gradual approach, she said, “I was infuriated. They were demonstrating with their actions that our culture was not worth fighting for.”

The cheerleader believes that the harsh response to the new routines, choreographed in large part by Black members of the team, stemmed from complaints by alumni to the athletics department. “I think that biased people exist,” she said, “There are people that refuse to recognize how beautiful our culture is.”

When asked about the situation, Dickinson President John E. Jones III said that he was aware that a BERT report had been filed. “I don’t know factually where it is going to land,” he said, “but I don’t want to speculate.” He clarified that Quattrone’s departure in June of this year was a pre-planned retirement and is unrelated to the ongoing investigation. 

VP of Student Life George Stroud and Yvette Davis, Director of the Popel Shaw Center for Race and Ethnicity both declined to comment, as they make up part of the BERT committee that will see the report. 

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

The Dickinsonian strives to provide a forum for lively and respectful discussion among members of the Dickinson College community. We reserve the right to remove any comments that we do not adhere to our community standards.
All The Dickinsonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • W

    William AllisFeb 22, 2024 at 6:09 pm

    Dickinson as an institution should be ashamed that this has risen to the level of an issue. We should be embracing diversity and its manifestations not having administrative officials trying to slow down and jury its introduction. Both the AD and President should be celebrating this expressionism and promptly reverse their positions to support these students.