An Army veteran, who served his country in Afghanistan and Iraq, barred from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at one of our nation's universities? That's sure to raise hackles on social media.
Campus Reform reported on Cory Schroeder, a student senator at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and a six-year Army veteran, and his desire to recite the pledge before student government meetings.
The pledge is not part of the weekly routine.
Schroeder was said to have been told by "multiple" fellow senators in the Associated Students of the University of Wyoming that the subject was "very touchy" and that there was the possibility of offending two international students in the organization. He was told to write a bill seeking to add the pledge at the beginning of meetings.
This reportedly rubbed Schroeder the wrong way. Why write a bill just to recite the Pledge of Allegiance? (Efforts by The Times to reach Schroeder were unsuccessful at the time this post was published.)
The angry tweets quickly arrived on Twitter: "University of Wyoming student banned from reciting Pledge of Allegiance because it offends international students." People were advised to "STAY AWAY from the University of Wyoming" and one user wondered, "Is this the U.S.?"
University of Wyoming President Dick McGinity, a Vietnam War veteran, issued a statement Tuesday evening regarding Staff Sgt. Schroeder's efforts to have the pledge recited at ASUW meetings:
"As a fellow veteran, but speaking for myself only, I would like for all meetings of student government to begin with the Pledge of Allegiance. But this is not up to me. ASUW is an independent student organization with its own procedures and rules of conduct, and these elected student leaders make their own decisions. I respect that.
"The ASUW leaders have indicated that there is a process they intend to follow, and I expect that they will do so."
Ricardo Lind-Gonzalez, ASUW vice president, was singled out in the Campus Reform article as a particular roadblock in the pledge disagreement.
In an email to the Los Angeles Times, Lind-Gonzalez said students were not barred from reciting the pledge.
But "working documents" on how meetings are conducted do not include it, and those documents are held "in high regard; we must adhere to the statements within them." But, he said, "we always encourage senators to revise and update our working documents as they and their constituents see fit."
"It seems to me a reasonable position the leadership has taken," university spokesman Chad Baldwin told The Times by phone. "What they have is a meeting template that they follow that is written into their rules. They need a vote from the [student] Senate to change it."
The student leaders did not want to make a unilateral change, he said. Because of the possibility of offending those two international students?
"I personally think it is probably just fine to recite the pledge, and I think most senators would agree," he said. But "they didn't want to assume that everybody would be happy with reciting the pledge."
In other words: Write a bill.
Baldwin noted that although the student government has advisors, the university does not dictate their actions. So the student senators, like their older counterparts in U.S. politics, will have to muddle through this, angry tweets and all.
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