On Thursday, the student government at Grand Valley State University in Michigan voted 22-10 to end its tradition of saying the Pledge of Allegiance at meetings.
The majority of that body correctly said the Pledge wasn’t inclusive of international students or non-religious students. I would’ve gone further in my own reasoning, but the end result was the right one. It didn’t matter that a handful of ignorant people made public comments equating the Pledge with patriotism. They were outnumbered. End of story.
Except the backlash continued, and yesterday, the Student Senate announced they would reinstate the Pledge because… because… I give up. There’s no reason.
Last week, the Grand Valley State University Student Senate democratically voted to remove the Pledge of Allegiance from their internal operating agenda. After considering feedback brought to the body, students, and the University, we contemplated the many diverse perspectives of students and stakeholders and, through deliberative dialogue, 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.
That’s a long-winded way of saying conservatives pressured them into doing the wrong thing in the name of faux-patriotism. It’s cowardly. It may be legal, but it’s still cowardly.
What happened to caring about international students? What about non-religious ones? They had the option of standing or not standing before, too. So what changed? What feedback overrode their earlier concerns?
One Facebook commenter offered her own revised statement that is much more honest:
“After our university chose to prioritize the voices of donors and general public over the voices of the students actually attending the university, we have been pressured to backpedal on what was actually a majority decision to drop the Pledge from our agenda. Even though we debated the issue for weeks and came to a democratic decision, we were told that money matters more than democracy. It does not matter that the loudest voices have never attended the student senate meetings, the university image matters more than student government proceedings.”
How do we vote for that student to be in the Senate…?
Ultimately, all this means is that nothing changes. It could be worse. But the fact remains that a sensible (but unpopular) argument — that won a vote after discussion and debate — was rejected due to irrational (but overwhelming) complaints. When a student government caves like this, it’s easy to feel cynical about politics writ large. If these are our future leaders, what hope do we have?
(Featured image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)