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University’s student government removes Pledge of Allegiance from meetings

Some student senators at Grand Valley State argued pledge is non-inclusive, represents oppression

The Student Senate at Grand Valley State University has voted to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at its meetings, with some arguing it’s non-inclusive and represents an oppressive government.

Last week’s vote was 22 in favor, 10 opposed, with 10 abstentions, said Dorian Thompson, a student senator, in a telephone interview Saturday with The College Fix.

“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,” Thompson told The Fix.

This is the second student government this fall semester to nix the Pledge of Allegiance from its agenda. The University of Oklahoma student government also voted in September to scrap the pledge from its meetings.

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 (pictured), 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.

“The oppressive government thing? You could be shot or arrested for making that statement in a real oppressive government.”

Thompson, who is also involved in the College Republicans, stressed he spoke to The Fix on his own behalf and not as a spokesman for the student government or any campus group.

More than a dozen student senators at Grand Valley State did not respond to The College Fix’s request for comment on the issue over the weekend.

Several local news outlets have covered the development, including MLive, which reported that Student Senate spokesperson Ryan Fritz said the pledge is not only non-inclusive to international students, but also to non-religious and non-Christian students.

“A lot of students didn’t feel comfortable with the ‘under God’ aspect of the pledge,” Fritz said.

And Student Senator Lansing Sánchez-Castillo told Fox 17 that “we are representing a diverse population here and that specific language doesn’t sit with this diverse population and fully representing them.”

But Thompson said no one was ever forced to stand or recite the pledge, nor were there any issues last school year. Meanwhile, he said, at least one campus administrator told him that some alumni are angry about the issue and threatening to pull funding. He said he hopes to reintroduce the issue with the Student Senate.

“[M]ake this no mistake, the fight is not over,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “No matter if I continue to serve on this body or decide that they do not represent my values and leave, I will do everything in my power to fight this disgraceful act. God bless our flag, and may God bless our great country.”

MORE articles about Grand Valley State: 

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.