I pledge allegiance, to this controversy

Lanthorn Editorial Board

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Grand Valley State University has found itself at the heart of local controversy with the Student Senate’s decision to remove the Pledge of Allegiance from their general assembly meetings.

In the past two days, nine different local media sources have covered this development, and these stories have brought in a rampage of public attention. On Fox 17’s Facebook page, the story has garnered over 2,000 comments and over 4,400 reactions.

This number is incredibly high for the outlet’s Facebook, even when only looking at important stories. In comparison, a story on Governor Whitmer’s plan to address the opioid crisis, posted the day before, drew in only 197 comments and 133 reactions.

In some ways, this makes sense. The debate over the Pledge of Allegiance’s place in America goes far beyond GVSU. Some point to the controversial history of the pledge itself as a reason to move on. Others who want to keep it look past the history and see it as a way of honoring veterans and a sign of respect towards GVSU’s position as a federally-funded school.

Both sides of the issue present compelling arguments, but at the end of the day, we’ve got bigger fish to fry than whether or not Student Senate says the Pledge at the beginning of their meetings. 

According to various members of Student Senate, no student governing body at Michigan’s other state schools say the Pledge of Allegiance at their meetings. The meetings themselves consist mostly of the senators themselves and a handful of witnessing students, so the ritual — its presence or lack thereof — has no effect on the student body at large. If it had been absent from the meetings from the beginning, it is unlikely anyone would take notice.

Instead of putting so much attention on a small, internal detail of Student Senate, maybe we should be focusing on the important projects they are working on. In the past month, senate has passed resolutions to create a prayer room on GVSU’s health campus and to formally oppose the Grand River Waterway Project, they have created a Sustainability Subcommittee and they have also put effort into creating transparency at Board of Trustees meetings

One thing that both sides seem to have in common in their arguments is a sense of civic-duty to the community. For some, that means verbalizing our nations principles, and for others that means removing something that could be offensive or alienating. But to both sides, we have to ask: isn’t there more to civic-duty than this singular issue? 

Everyone seems to focus on things they disagree with, rather than the things Student Senate is actually doing. And for what? This discussion has gone on for far too long. It’s time for people move on.