Cinco de Mayo post spurs backlash against Western New England University lacrosse team

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Published: 5/7/2017 7:10:48 PM

The Western New England University women’s lacrosse team caught headlines over the weekend, but the news had nothing to do with on-the-field play.

Instead, the team attracted the attention of administrators and a social media backlash over the weekend. The New York Daily News reported team members smiled for the camera on Cinco de Mayo, Friday, and in two Instagram posts advocated for a wall on the United States’ southern border — just not before the “honorary Amigos” pictured were done celebrating “Mexican St. Paddys day.”

Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates a Mexican military victory over the French in 1862, is more widely celebrated in the United States than in Mexico.

The second post was brief: “Build that wall,” it read, with the hashtag “#wnelax.”

The Daily News reported Rachel Canning, a lacrosse player at the school, posted the picture to Instagram of the team smiling for the camera, with one of the women pictured upside-down on a beer keg. The New York Post also covered the social media post and ensuing backlash.

The photo caption is addressed to President Donald Trump.

“Dear Mr. Trump. glad you didn’t build that wall JUST YET. Happy Mexican St. Paddys day from our honorary Amigos to yours,” reads the post, which is punctuated with an emoji of a mustachioed, dark-haired man.

Screenshots of Canning’s post and the other were published by Jordan Mieko, whose Facebook account says she is a student at Western New England University.

Mieko said along with the screenshot: “Problematic racist yt ppl @ my school.”

The Gazette could not confirm the authenticity of the original Instagram posts. On Sunday, Canning’s account was listed as private. And the second account, under the username “marissas98” could not be found.

Still, administrators acknowledged the controversy and said they were investigating.

“Over the past 24 hours the university staff has been actively involved in our institutional process for handling such matters,” said Brian J. Zelasko, vice president for marketing and external affairs at the Springfield school. “The review process concerning the Instagram posts is underway, and we are addressing the matter with those involved.”

Zelasko also said: “As a multicultural campus, Western New England University cherishes its diversity and firmly believes that all members of the campus community should be treated with civility and respect at all times. The University is firmly committed to addressing all bias-based incidents, including behavior that creates an unwelcoming and hostile environment.”

Mieko’s post was shared more than 250 times and attracted almost 150 comments on Facebook as of Sunday evening.

Canning, the Daily News noted, was at the center of another media story three years ago when the New Jersey native sued her parents seeking financial support. She reportedly dropped the suit.

Jack Suntrup can be reached at



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