Millikin University Stands By Its Students


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Alexsenia Ralat and Katy Swift, Co-Editor-in-Chief and Editor-in-Chief

An Editorial from The Decaturian


Millikin University has been ranked among America’s top colleges in recent years. The university has strived to give its students the best education that it could possibly give them and is focused on making sure that every student is included. Millikin is  big on inclusivity. They believe that everyone should have a voice and be able to stand up for what they believe is right. That being said, the football players staying in the locker room during the National Anthem was an example of Millikin University trying to make sure that all of their students have a voice regardless of race, gender, or sexuality.

“As an academic institution, we will always encourage honest and open conversations about issues of importance to our students, faculty, and community. We must all work together to make sure that a more substantial dialogue about inclusive excellence happening on campus will continue to engage students in the thoughtful discourse surrounding these important issues,” said Millikin University President Pat White in a statement on October 18.

Before the event that caused the uproar from hundreds of American citizens, President White sent out an email to all of Millikin’s students and faculty explaining why the football team would no longer be coming out onto the field before the National Anthem. The logic behind Millikin’s decision made sense. In order to avoid possible backlash and media controversy due to the fact that some players were honoring America while on bended knee, the players and their coaches all agreed that staying in the locker room during the National Anthem was the best option. The team released a statement within an email addressed to Millikin students and staff on October 7:

“We, the players and coaches of the Millikin University football program, recognize the extraordinary honor we have to represent Millikin University.  We also recognize that with this honor comes great responsibility – not just to the University community, but, as Millikin has taught us, to the democratic society in which we live. We also recognize that our football team is a unifying force for the campus community.  Unfortunately, we recently experienced how our response to current events can divide our community regardless of the intent of our message. After listening to those who both agree and disagree with our stance, we have chosen to forge a new path.
“We have listened to members of the Millikin community who view the playing of the National Anthem as sacrosanct.  Please let there be no doubt that we have the utmost respect for the sacrifice made by those who served or do serve in our armed forces, including many of our family and friends. Therefore, it is our desire to do nothing that could be viewed as disrespectful of their sacrifice. At the same time, we take very seriously our responsibility as good American citizens to be the voice of the voiceless and to engage our community in a discussion of the issue of race in America and to support those members of our football team who exercise their rights and responsibilities, in the words of the Millikin Mission statement, to become ‘democratic citizens in a global environment.’ Therefore, rather than have our message be misunderstood or misconstrued, we are united in our decision to stay in the locker room until kickoff during which time we will engage in a moment of reflection to personally recognize the sacrifice of so many and renew our commitment to living up to those most important words: ‘with liberty and justice for all.’ May God Bless America.”

Millikin’s offices have been bombarded with phone calls and emails from as far away as Australia. Almost all of them have contacted Millikin to complain about a group of athletes based on a one-sided, political issue. The narrative that media has painted for the public eye makes it seem like Millikin’s football players are united in a stand against our National Anthem. That is not the case. Like many across this country, the football team has many players who would prefer to stand for the National Anthem and others who would prefer to kneel. They made a decision as a team to try to avoid controversy over an issue that has caused controversy across the United States. Many of the athletes, while in the gym preparing for the game, stood and paid their respects during the National Anthem. These athletes have been called unpatriotic and cowards.

They are not.

Neither are those who chose to kneel.

Millikin University won its game on Saturday, against an Augustana team 43-35. Their record so far this season is 3-3. We’d like to congratulate the Millikin football team and let them know that there are those that support you.

With this in mind, the university still plans to continue supporting the Big Blue when they take the field. We at The Decaturian support all of Millikin’s athletes, those who choose to stand and those who choose to kneel. We stand for the spirit of inclusivity. We stand against those who express their ignorance with death threats and hostile actions.