University Bans Pledge: “It Represents an Oppressive Government”

In a controversial move last week, the Student Senate at Grand Valley State University voted 22-10 to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at their meetings, arguing that its “oppressive” words and history conspired to make some students uncomfortable. With the move, GVSU became the second student government this year to do away with the Pledge, following in the footsteps of the University of Oklahoma.

“The arguments to remove it were to create an inclusive environment, that it represented an oppressive government, and that there are international students that we should be representing,” a GVSU student named Dorian Thompson explained to The College Fix.

The College Fix has more:

Grand Valley State’s Thompson, a senior and political science major at the Michigan-based public university, said he prompted the public vote on the issue because Student Senate committee chairs and vice chairs had “secretly” decided to remove the pledge prior to the start of the fall semester.

Thompson, who is serving his second year on the Student Senate, said he noticed the change when meetings resumed this fall semester and the pledge was noticeably absent.

“I motioned to bring it back,” he said, noting there was no formal resolution on the issue.

His effort failed after a somewhat heated Student Senate meeting last Thursday, he said. Adding insult to injury, he said, the vote took place just three days after Veterans Day.

“Of course our country doesn’t have the brightest past with human rights issues, but with liberty and justice for all, that says right there no matter what interesting times we are in we will always rise above it and go forward and not backwards,” Thompson told The Fix.

Under intense criticism from all corners after voting against the Pledge, the student government decided on Tuesday to reinstate it.

“Last week, the Grand Valley State University Student Senate democratically voted to remove the Pledge of Allegiance from their internal operating agenda,” they posted on their Facebook page. “After considering feedback brought to the body, students, and the University, we contemplated the many diverse perspectives of students and stakeholders and, through deliberative dialogues, we worked to find a solution that we believe will meet the needs of all students. As a result, the Grand Valley State University Student Senate has decided to reinstate the Pledge of Allegiance to give students the opportunity to stand or not stand. The Pledge of Allegiance will be included regularly on each Student Senate agenda.”

Well, we’re thankful to see that sanity has prevailed, but the fact that so many young college students think there is something controversial or hateful about the Pledge of Allegiance in the first place is just…dismaying. If things don’t change soon, this will be completely normal at our nation’s universities. And when student governments ban the Pledge, there will be no news stories, no “feedback,” and no going back on that decision later. Our national pride and unity will grow that much weaker. It’s a tragic thing to contemplate.  

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