The student congress at the University of Oklahoma voted to remove the Pledge of Allegiance from their agenda last week.
In a vote of 15-11, the university’s Undergraduate Student Congress passed the resolution on Sept. 24, ending the tradition of the pledge in the Student Congress for the first time since it was created in 2008, according to Oklahoma’s KFOR News.
“For us to be like the best most inclusive body, I thought that we should remove it,” the resolution’s author, OU senior Gabi Thompson, told KFOR.
“It was written as a celebration of Columbus Day in 1892, and in the city of Norman we don’t celebrate Columbus Day, we celebrate Indigenous People’s Day,” Thompson said. “I was really able to connect with a lot of the international students and them saying thank you for writing it.”
The resolution said the pledge “is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment as pledging your allegiance to the flag of the United States as one nation under God conflicts to our rights to free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.”
The university issued a statement on Tuesday in response to the act, supporting both patriotism and the free exchange of ideas:
As the state’s flagship university, patriotism pervades the University of Oklahoma—from the singing of the National Anthem at major ceremonies and sporting events, to the honoring of servicemen and servicewomen as Patriot of the Game, to the investment made in programs for our nation’s veterans and armed forces.
The Undergraduate Student Congress provides students an opportunity to debate ideas in a learning environment. Members represent a diverse group of students with a wide array of viewpoints. The group’s recent resolution to discontinue the pledge at its meetings has no impact on any other organization or University policies. The vote was narrow and does not prevent future resolutions to reinstate the pledge if called for by other members of the Student Congress.
Just as the University proudly displays its patriotism, it also celebrates the free exchange of ideas and supports students in their efforts to make space for all voices to be heard.
The university’s College Republicans group issued a statement that said, “We are disheartened by this move. While we respect everyone’s right to not say the Pledge of Allegiance, we would urge them to do otherwise. The Pledge of Allegiance transcends partisanship, race, ethnicity, and all of the divides in our country. It reminds us that though we may disagree, or look different, or not worship the same, we are one nation, indivisible.
View this post on Instagram
Other students have criticized the move, describing it as “un-American” or “a load of crap,” according to CBS Local.
Thompson insists the change is a positive one.
“I think that we can make a change and make sure people are heard even from a small level,” she said.