Most fans cheered for the Nittany Lions during their home game victory against the University of Michigan on Oct. 30, but interracial couple Linda and Bobby Baker said the fans behind them were slinging racial slurs.
Linda Baker, 45, whose husband Bobby, 44, is black, said the comments were “horrendous.”
“They kept calling me a n— loving bitch,” Linda Baker said.
The Bakers, of Greensburg, Pa., were forced to leave the game early after Linda Baker was harassed while her husband went to the bathroom.
Bobby Baker, a Michigan native and Michigan Wolverine fan, was confronted by a Penn State fan who prevented him from entering the bathroom. When he told his wife about the situation, she said she was ready to leave the game for good.
“I didn’t expect that at Penn State, I swear I didn’t,” Linda Baker said. “I was blown away.”
The couple wrote a letter to the university describing their experience, Linda Baker said, prompting a quick response from university officials.
Letters of apology from the university, including two from Penn State President Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno, have had a positive impact, Linda Baker said.
The Bakers sat in the alumni section of the stadium but said they are not sure if the harassers were alumni themselves.
Alumni or not, Associate Vice President and Executive Director of the Alumni Association Roger Williams said he is embarrassed by what happened.
“The paradox of this is hard to fathom. How could [the perpetrators] presumably cheer for the many black players for the Nittany Lions yet condemn and harass an interracial couple in the stands, our guests?” Williams said. “It’s simply incredible.”
But Linda Baker said she is embarrassed, not angry.
“I’m not angry at all,” Linda Baker said. “There are ignorant people and people that are stupid and I know that.”
Travis Salters, president of Penn State’s chapter of the NAACP, said he has been called racial slurs on campus before, so what happened to the Bakers doesn’t surprise him.
“Racism, and all forms of hate, is alive and very present on this campus,” Salters said. “Until we get to a point where we can pull away the veil and look at the real picture, we will never make it to a society that is accepting.”