SGA candidate advised to cover nickname on sign

When running for elected offices, colorful signs and catchy slogans are typical. In the current Student Government Association election, one sign in particular has earned a little more attention than the others.

Graham McMillan is running for Vice President of External Relations under the nickname of Graham “Cracker” McMillan. But due to the varied connotations of the term “cracker,” McMillan was asked to cover his signs.

McMillan, a sophomore political science major, has introduced himself by saying, “Hello. I’m Graham, like the cracker” since high school. People can easily mispronounce his name, he said, so he began saying “Graham, like the cracker” to help people remember him.

When it came to his campaign posters, he stuck with what was familiar. Graham “Cracker” may be a familiar nickname in McMillan’s circle, but outside his circle, it is considered a derogatory term.

His signs were only out for a few days before students noticed bright blue, purple and flame-colored tape positioned over “Cracker.”

McMillan said he heard that individuals were viewing his nickname as derogatory. He covered his signs and taped over “cracker” at the urging of his SGA adviser Kim Turner. “I just followed her advice and trusted her judgement,” McMillan said.

Turner wrote in an email that she and McMillan thought it “would be a good idea” to obscure the word.

“Graham is in no way in trouble with SGA,” she wrote. “Our office has asked other students to remove signs, make spelling changes etc. in the past.”

McMillan said if the university deemed his signs to be derogatory, then asking him to cover them was more than fair.

“I had no intention of offending anyone,” McMillan said. “I just played off my name just like I’ve been doing since I walked in the door.”

Running unopposed, McMillan said the taping of his signs has not negatively affected his campaign. He said it might have helped due to all the publicity from the change.

There were students who felt there was no need to cover his signs. Michael Dabbs, a junior strategic communication major, said the signs might have been changed because “[cracker] could have been taken out of context.”

Marc Milhollin, a junior nutrition major, said he doubted that McMillan meant to be discriminatory. He said that because “cracker” is also a derogatory term for white people, he did not understand the reaction.

“Since he’s a white person, it doesn’t seem offensive,” Jessica Altenberg said. “I really don’t see how anyone was offended.” 

Altenberg, a senior nursing major, said since that slogan was a part of his personality it was natural for him to put it in his campaign.

“He’s the nicest guy,” she said. “I don’t think he would do something intentionally to hurt people.”

Editor’s note: The original story gave the impression that Turner did not comment on the request to change the sign. However, in an email sent to the reporter Monday evening she wrote that she and Graham believed it would be a good idea to change the sign. In an interview after Skiff publication, she added that the nickname was obscured because some people might find the word “cracker” offensive.