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Breast cancer event language changed to avoid distraction at Brenau
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Lauren Hughes, a student at Brenau University studying organizational leadership, physical therapy, and dance, paints a heart on a banner during breast cancer awareness event at Brenau University on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

Though the rain may have put a damper on attendance at a breast cancer awareness event at Brenau University on Tuesday, Oct. 9, the language in a school message promoting the event drew some attention of its own.

The educational gathering included games and activities that were given names meant to be tongue-in-cheek references to the part of the body attacked by cancer. 

But these titles were met with offense by at least one student who contacted an Atlanta area television news station with the details.

Ultimately, that prompted Brenau officials to scrap some language from the event before it distracted from the important message being delivered.

“In a recent edition of ‘This Week at Brenau,’ some questionable language was used in promoting the university’s Breast Cancer/Domestic Violence Fall Festival,” Brenau spokesman Ben McDade said in a statement. “Student Services immediately issued a retraction for using the language. With a positive track record of providing education and resources on important issues, we are using this miscommunication to educate the campus community in the importance of communicating responsibility when addressing sensitive topics. Going forward campus administrators have implemented a two-step approval process for communications targeted to students.”

It’s not unheard of for the sponsors of breast cancer educational events or fundraisers to find clever ways to market their cause.

The Brenau event, now in its second year, included self-check breast demonstrations using mannequins provided by health professionals, a pink and purple version of the game Twister, other games and food.

Lauren Hughes, 21, who is studying organizational leadership, physical therapy and dance, was on hand to help prepare and set up the event, which was moved into the Yonah Hall lobby from the Brenau main lawn.

Hughes said her older sister had breast cancer, and she understands if some students were upset by the terminology or phrases used.

After all, Hughes said she didn’t want to see bad publicity come to an otherwise meaningful event, and she believed that the university made the right decision to change the language so that it wasn’t a distraction.

“We’re trying to spread positivity,” she said. “The purpose is about how we need to take care of our bodies.”

At the same time, Hughes said, she understands that people say things in jest that have different connotations or are received differently from person to person.

“I can’t say 100 percent that I’m offended,” she added.

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A banner is available for attendees to place their painted hands on during breast cancer awareness event at Brenau University on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele