The Wall Street Journal last week published an editorial, titled, "It Pays to Be A Wyoming Cowboy." The story behind that headline goes back to July 2018 when, as Campus Reform reported at the time, the University of Wyoming stood its ground against about two dozen professors who took issue with the school's newly-unveiled slogan, "the world needs more cowboys."
The slogan, critics said was sexist and xenophobic, among other things.
“I am not the only person for whom the word ‘cowboy’ invokes a white, macho, male, able-bodied, heterosexual, U.S.-born person,” associate professor of kinesiology and health Christine Porter said at the time. “The history of cowboys, of course, is much more diverse than that racially, and presumably also for sexual orientation. But the image—what the word ‘cowboy’ means off the top of almost everybody’s head in the U.S.—is the white, heterosexual male.”
Despite the criticism, however, the university stood its ground and continued its marketing campaign with the slogan.
Between July and December 2018, royalties were up $38,000 over the same period in 2017 as the school licensed 143 different products with the tagline to third-party vendors. A funeral home even requested permission to create a “the world needs more cowboys” coffin. Talk about getting the final word.
The campaign has been a hit off campus, too. A campaign ad video had half a million views online—nearly the equivalent of Wyoming’s state population. After seeing the digital ads, some 18,000 viewers clicked on the link and gave their information to recruiters. Enrollment numbers won’t be in until later this year, but “it’s pretty clear there’s been an increase in interest,” spokesman Chad Baldwin says.
Campus Reform Correspondent and UW student Jessie Leach joined Fox & Friends Tuesday morning to discuss the topic
"There's an outrage culture on our campuses and everybody wants to be part of the newest outrage and a couple of people at the University of Wyoming I guess just wanted a bite at that apple," Leach said, later calling the controversy "silly."
"I was born and raised in Wyoming...and I've never once related the words cowboy with 'genocide,' 'xenophobia,' or anything like that," she said.
For Leach, the cowboy controversy triggered two separate reactions.
"The first is that these professors are completely missing the facts and the fact is when they claim that this slogan is sexist and it's xenophobic, cowboys exist all over the world. But beyond that, my second reaction is they're completely missing the point. The point of the slogan is to say the world needs more people with the cowboy spirit and that's the spirit of hard work, determination, self-reliance, and integrity," she added.