USC community reacts to anti-LDS chant at BYU game

An “offensive chant” directed at BYU fans came from the USC student section Saturday.

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USC students and faculty are reacting to an “offensive chant” that broke out in the USC student section during the football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum against Brigham Young University Saturday.

According to multiple posts during and after the game from users on Twitter and TikTok, which have now been deleted, students were chanting “F--- the Mormons” at the BYU football players. BYU is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Following the game, USC Athletics released an apology statement on Twitter.

“The offensive chant from our student section directed towards BYU during the football game last night does not align with our Trojan values,” the department said. “It was distasteful and we apologize to the BYU program.”

USC defensive line coach Vic So’oto released his own statement following the game. So’oto attended BYU and played on the university’s football team as a tight end and on defense for four years. In the tweet, So’oto tagged BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake and athletic director Tom Holmoe.

“I did not hear the chant, but I know it does not reflect the Trojan family that I’ve come to know and love,” So’oto said. “Sincere apologies from an alum … All love. Hard fought game. Fight On.”

Students across campus have expressed their concerns regarding the chant. Heather Giles, vice president of the Latter-Day Saint Student Association at USC, heard about the chant from other members of the LDS congregation.

“Any time you have this kind of … small microaggression type things, it’s like, why do they think this is an OK thing to do?” Giles said.

Giles said LDS members are an “acceptable target” in the United States to go after because of the misunderstood history of the denomination.

Matthew Nielsen, also a member of the Latter-Day Saint Student Association at USC, explained that members of the LDS Church have tried to move away from being referred to as “Mormons.”

“I think we are strategically trying to present ourselves as a church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to renew that emphasis on Jesus Christ and our faith,” Nielsen said.

“For a long time, we identified as Mormons,” said Caroline Otero, another member of the LDS Student Association, “and in recent years, we’ve moved away from that.”

Although Saturday’s chants raised concerns among the university community, Dean of Religious Life Varun Soni does not think the chant was a representation of “our world and students.”

“For students who are on our campus, we probably have about 150 students who are members of the LDS church,” Soni said. “If you talk to them, their experience has been one of inclusion and belonging. [USC] has done a lot, in my opinion, to support all of our religious organizations.”

The university has issued an apology to BYU on behalf of the students and the chant, Soni said.

“We always try to create some light out of darkness and we always at a university, try to create education out of ignorance,” Soni said. “I think this is an opportunity to do that.”