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Undergraduate Student Congress votes to remove pledge from meetings

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Members of the Student Government Association sit during a meeting on Feb. 13.

The Undergraduate Student Congress passed a resolution removing the Pledge of Allegiance from the congressional agenda during its Sep. 24 meeting.

Author of the resolution Gabi Thompson said her motivation for wanting the pledge removed was two-pronged — she finds the flag salute’s roots in Columbus Day problematic, and the salute is not in the constitutional bylaws.

“I realized that there would be no better place for me to (make) some change than where I’ve been the entire time I’ve been at OU,” Thompson said. “I realized that (the Pledge of Allegiance) wasn’t in our bylaws, it wasn’t something that we had to do so I wanted to let everyone know the history of the injustices that it stands for.”

The introduction of the resolution resulted in about a 30-minute period for questions, a 5-minute recess for caucusing and a lengthy debate session.

In the debate, some congress members said the flag salute represented the flag and national unity, while others said it represented a history of oppression of minorities. At one point during debate, congress member Peter Hardt said “everyone here is crazy,” and that the debate was about whether the Pledge of Allegiance is in the bylaws, not about the flag.

Thompson said she knew the resolution would be controversial, but the debate means more to her than just a discussion.

“I hope that people are motivated by this kind of democratic process that we experienced here tonight… to go on and realize that we can make a difference,” Thompson said.

The congress also passed a resolution amending the SGA code regarding the Student Environmental Coalition, which is a group of environmental clubs on campus that coordinates efforts to make on-campus activities more sustainable. Sustainability committee chair Gina Werdel said the code has needed amending for about two years, and it will now reflect how the Student Environmental Coalition actually operates more accurately.

“I’m glad (the passing of the resolution) is over with. It’s something I had to do,” Werdel said.

In the meeting, the congress also appointed Nathan Buxton as a humanities representative and Sam Quick as the election board chair.

This story was updated on Sept. 25 at 12:34 p.m. to reflect that the bill regarding the Pledge of Allegiance was actually a resolution. 

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