CASPER, Wyo. — A University of Wyoming student veteran says he will submit a proposal to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at student government meetings following national media attention on the issue Wednesday.
Various news reports said Cory Schroeder, a first-time representative in the Associated Students of the University of Wyoming, was barred from reciting the pledge because it might offend international students.
Schroeder, a student veteran from Wright, appeared on Fox News on Wednesday morning and said the group’s leadership told him that reciting the pledge might be offensive to international students.
Instead of reciting the pledge, the group reads its mission statement at the start of meetings. Changing that practice would require a vote of the full Senate, said Ahmed Balogun, president of the student group.
“There wasn’t any talk of a ban,” Balogun said.
Schroeder told the Star-Tribune that he disagrees that a vote should be required to allow students to say the Pledge of Allegiance at meetings but that he respects the organization’s process.
He wrote a proposal to add the pledge to the group’s meeting agenda and plans to submit it at the next meeting this fall.
“I don’t think the Pledge of Allegiance is an agenda item that should be passed by two-thirds votes,” Schroeder said. “I don’t think 15 seconds for a couple patriots to say the pledge disrupts anything.”
National media incorrectly reported Wednesday that Schroeder had been banned from reciting the pledge. Fox News headlines accompanying Schroeder’s interview said “University student silenced” and “Vet barred from saying Pledge of Allegiance.”
An article from the website The Daily Caller said university leaders had denied Schroeder’s request to say the pledge.
Ricardo Lind-Gonzalez, the group’s vice president, said he talked with Schroeder in April about why the group did not recite the pledge before meetings but did not tell Schroeder it was because the practice could offend international students, as Schroeder alleged.
“I told him it could very well do that, but that’s not why it’s not happening,” Lind-Gonzalez told the Star-Tribune.
He said the group’s leadership is willing to work with Schroeder.
Balogun, a native of Nigeria and an international student at UW, said he told Schroeder it was irrelevant whether he would be offended if the Pledge of Allegiance were recited during meetings. As president, Balogun does not vote on legislation.
“If you want to see this done, you should just do it,” Balogun said. “If there’s something you’re passionate about and want to do, do it.”
UW President Dick McGinity, a Vietnam War veteran, said in a statement that he personally would like all student government meetings to begin with the Pledge of Allegiance.
“But this is not up to me,” McGinity said in the statement. “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 university submitted McGinity’s statement to Fox News on Tuesday after learning of the planned interview, UW spokesman Chad Baldwin said. Fox confirmed that it had received McGinity’s remarks, Baldwin said, but no comment from the university was aired during Schroeder’s interview.
The university has extended several new benefits to student veterans recently, including charging discounted in-state tuition rates to out-of-state veterans, waiving application fees and offering priority registration.