Officials at the University of Mississippi apologized on Thursday for the behavior of student audience members at a university production of “The Laramie Project” on Tuesday night. During the performance, based on the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, audience members used “derogatory terms” for homosexuals that one university official described as “hate speech.”
“The football players were certainly not the only audience members that were being offensive last night,” the play’s director, Rory Ledbetter, told the Daily Mississippian. “But they were definitely the ones who seemed to initiate others in the audience to say things, too. It seemed like they didn’t know that they were representing the university when they were doing these things.”
Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze confirmed to the Associated Press that football players were in the audience. A group of football players apologized after the play, according to Michael Barnett, the university’s assistant theatre chair. Barnett also told the AP “members of the audience grew more disruptive — taking pictures on their phone and laughing — as the play progressed.”
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