Las Vegas Sun

October 18, 2017

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UNR student-produced fan video bashing UNLV irks chancellor


A screen grab from “Savior of the Student Section: Nevada’s J.C.,” a slickly-produced, four-minute fan video that showcases a bearded male UNR student who calls himself “J.C.”

Savior of the Student Section: Nevada’s J.C.

A screen grab from Launch slideshow »

Nevada’s higher education leader is apparently outraged by a UNR student-produced YouTube video that trash-talks UNLV.

Chancellor Dan Klaich, in an email obtained by the Sun, said he was appalled by the online UNR fan video, which at one point refers to UNLV as a “waste of state money.”

“Savior of the Student Section: Nevada’s J.C.” is a slickly produced, four-minute satirical video that showcases a bearded male UNR student who calls himself “J.C.”

The identity of the student could not be ascertained, but a March article in UNR’s student newspaper describes J.C. as a passionate Wolf Pack fan who has become a fixture at UNR football games. In the video, the student is shown dressed in a white robe, blue sash, brown sandals and a blue UNR Wolf Pack headband.

In one scene, an actor who calls himself “J.C.’s coach” riles J.C. with a stick-figure dressed in a red UNLV T-shirt.

“This UNLV fan just said that your school sucks,” the “coach” tells J.C. “Are you going to take that? Are you going to take that, J.C.?”

“My school sucks?” J.C. responds. “Are you on drugs? … Your school sucks. Do you know what it’s like to go to a tier-1 university? Oh wait, no. You don’t. You don’t know what that’s like.

“Your school is a waste of state money,” J.C. continues. “Your school sucks.”

(Neither UNR nor UNLV is classified as tier-1, “very high research” universities under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions, which is considered by many university leaders to be the gold standard of college rankings.)

The student-produced video ends with a logo of UNR’s athletic department, a link to its ticketing website and a link to J.C.’s Twitter feed.

Although the video highlights the intense sports rivalry between UNR and UNLV, it comes after a prolonged and contentious debate over how the Nevada System of Higher Education funds its seven colleges and universities.

The previous funding formula was long criticized for shortchanging Southern Nevada institutions to the benefit of Northern Nevada institutions. In 2010, UNR received nearly $2,000 per student more than UNLV, which serves the population center of Nevada.

This year, the Legislature approved a new formula that proponents argue would more equitably distribute state funds between the north and south. Southern Nevada institutions will receive several million more dollars this year under the new formula.

Klaich is the chief architect of the funding formula, which he has argued would help ease the long-simmering geographic tension.

That might be the reason why Klaich apparently was upset by the J.C. video.

Klaich, a UNR alumnus, sent a terse email to UNR President Marc Johnson on Sept. 24 after Nevada political pundit Jon Ralston posted a link to the video on Twitter. The video and Klaich’s email were circulated last week among Nevada’s higher education officials. Klaich was not immediately available for comment.

“I have to say I am pretty appalled by this video and its denigration of your sister institution UNLV,” Klaich wrote in the email. “We work our tails off to promote collaboration and partnership and something like this does real damage.”

“I am frankly ashamed of it and to be in any way associated with it.” Klaich wrote in concluding the email.

UNR representatives said the video was not produced by the university nor funded in any way by Nevada taxpayers.

“As far as I know, we in (the) athletics (department) weren’t behind it,” said UNR athletics department spokesman Chad Hartley. “We had nothing to do with it.”

All of the locations seen in the video are generally open to the public during business hours, Hartley said. Multiple gates at UNR’s Mackay Stadium are left unlocked to allow community members access to the stadium’s track, bleachers and field.

UNR officials did not comment on the video’s message, arguing students have an academic freedom to voice their opinions. They did, however, take issue with the UNR Wolf Pack logo at the end of the video. They said it was misused and have asked the students behind the video to remove it.

“We do have a policy here with the block 'N' and 'wolf' logos,” UNR spokeswoman Natalie Savage said. “Anybody who wants to use that in an official manner needs to have a release form or use-of-logo form. We’re very particular about our brand.”

UNR senior Brian Sergott, who is credited in the YouTube video description as its director of photography, said the student filmmakers were in the process of republishing an edited version of the video. The new version will not have any references to UNLV and will not show the UNR logo, he said.

“We’re working on taking that part out of the video because our university was not happy about that part,” Sergott said. “We’re taking out the ending logos as well, which we completely understand. We’re not fighting it.”

Sergott, a journalism and photography major, said nearly a dozen students worked on the project, which was shot and edited two weeks before the video was posted online Sept. 21. The four-student video production team used its own equipment, he said.

Sergott called the video a “fun project” that got a lot more buzz than the students had anticipated. Klaich had misunderstood the video to be produced by UNR officials, not by students, Sergott added.

Regardless, Sergott said he planned to remove his name from the edited video. Sergott, who is a videographer for UNR’s student government, said the J.C. video was a negative reflection on his professionalism. The video’s cinematographer, scriptwriter and director also wanted to remain anonymous, he said.

“I just don’t want anyone to think that I’m being disrespectful to other institutions,” Sergott said. “As much as I love UNR, I don’t want to be known as the guy that totally bashes another school.”

Sun political reporter Andrew Doughman contributed to this story.

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