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Fans going to Washington State-Nebraska game greeted by protesters of violence against women

(c) 1995 Copyright The News and Observer Publishing Co.
(c) 1995 Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (Sep 30, 1995 - 16:01 EDT) -- Fans going to the Washington State-Nebraska football game Saturday were greeted by about 30 protesters calling attention to violence against women.

Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips has pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault and trespassing charges for hitting a former girlfriend. He has been suspended from the team. Phillips wrote a letter of apology to the woman, who also is a student-athlete.

Madeline Popa, coordinator of the Nebraska chapter of the National Organization for Women, said the protesters support football, but want to keep violence confined to the field.

Fans had mixed reactions. "Give me ten bucks and I'll go up and punch one for you," one man said to his friend as they walked by.

Joe Frolio, 85, of Omaha, said he supported the protesters. "We need to protect these women who go to school here," he said. "They come here to be educated."

Eighteen members of the University of Nebraska Women's Caucus signed a document calling for a review of Phillips' status as a student and whether he violated student conduct rules.

University officials have said a decision has been made as to whether Phillips' case fell under jurisdiction of the code but confidentiality requirements bar disclosure of the outcome of any inquiry. Phillips remains a student at the school.

Popa said Phillips should not be allowed back on the team and she hoped the protest would send that message to coach Tom Osborne.

Judith Kriss, director of the UNL Women's Center, said she wanted fans to know that punishment must be given to people who commit violence against women. "It seems an abuser in this case has privileges and support," she said. "We want to show we support the football team but not violence."

Fans were encouraged to wear white and join the protesters. At least three university students did.

Lynette Bender, Olivia Thoene and Candice Fryda held signs and joined the line. Thoene said it would be hard to convince some fans to support their cause. "Football's fun and all," she said, "but you have to play by the rules."