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Some Protest White Appearance

April 19, 1998

MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Reggie White’s scheduled appearance at a University of Wisconsin sports fund-raiser has drawn protests according to a student leader, weeks after he was criticized for remarks he made against homosexuality.

The National W Club, an organizer of the event next Friday, said the star defensive end for the Green Bay Packers is expected to mingle with sports fans and deliver some remarks. The fund-raiser coincides with a spring intrasquad football game.

Angela Smith, a student representative to the university’s Athletic Board, said that by last Friday she had received about 10 e-mails from people unhappy with the invitation to White.

``All are extremely polite,″ Smith said of the e-mails she received. ``They just say, `We don’t feel that he’s an appropriate representative for the University of Wisconsin.‴

``They haven’t denied his right to free speech. They just don’t want him to be the UW representative at a very public event.″

White, an ordained minister, sparked a firestorm of criticism from gay-rights groups because of remarks to legislators March 25 during a guest appearance in the state Assembly.

During the speech, the football star called homosexuality a sin. After making national headlines, White issued a statement April 2, saying he regretted offending anyone ``but I do not apologize for standing on God’s word when it comes to sin ...″

Students representing gays, lesbians and bisexuals plan to protest outside the field house if White attends, the Athletic Board was told during a meeting last week.

Terry Murawski, who heads the W Club, said his office had received ``very minimal comments or concerns″ about White.

White agreed prior to his statehouse speech to help with the event, Murawski said.

``Our impression is that we’re not having Reggie here because of what he believes or doesn’t believe about religion or about race,″ Murawski said. ``We have him here as a representative of the Green Bay Packers, to try and add a little life to a great fund-raiser.″

Organizers of the event will confer with campus police about security arrangements, he said.

White’s fee for participating was not disclosed. Tickets are $30 apiece, including admission to the spring game. The event also sells $50 raffle tickets toward a $50,000 prize.

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