Kneeling protest comes to BVU

Monday, October 2, 2017
A few BVU football players and many of the cheerleaders took a knee Saturday. (Photo by Craig Shultz)

STORM LAKE — A few Buena Vista University football athletes and many of the football cheerleaders chose to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem Saturday, for the first time, before BVU’s homecoming game.

BVU President Joshua Merchant responded with a statement encouraging open discourse and free expression.

“In light of recent events across the country and our homecoming game this Saturday, I feel compelled to communicate some of my core beliefs relative to Buena Vista University,” he wrote. “BVU respects our military members and our veterans. We also respect the rights of our students, employees, alumni, fans and friends to demonstrate their civil liberties in ways that are peaceful and lawful. As an institution of higher learning, BVU believes in open discourse. Through our conversations, BVU seeks to better understand our opinions and the opinions of those whose differ from our own. I simply ask that our community members respect one another through language and action.”

He said there have been opportunities for open discussion about this issue on campus.

Prior to the game, some of the players and cheerleaders planned to kneel during the anthem, which follows a movement by NFL players and other athletes around the county to express concern about racial injustice. The movement gained momentum and spread to the collegiate ranks and even youth sports with players kneeling or linking arms, as President Donald Trump lashed out at players who chose to kneel, in a recent rally appearance and in social media posts.

The BVU student newspaper, The Tack, reported prior to the game that football athletes had met for discussions on the issues and viewpoints during the week, with individual athletes left to choose for themselves whether to stand or kneel during the anthem.

“We think everybody’s entitled to their own voice,” senior co-captain Griffin Redding was quoted. “Whatever way the athletes on our team wish to use their voice, we’ll support 100 percent.”

Head coach Grant Mollring said players have been encouraged to be open minded and to learn from others’ perspectives.

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job this week educating them as to why this issue has come up and why the NFL is taking the stances they have in terms of the people taking a knee and the people supporting them,” Mollring told The Tack. “So I feel comfortable in knowing that our guys understand the issue at hand.

“My wish and hope for our football team is that we present a unified front to recognize that there are injustices still taking place in today’s society, but that we are unified in support of each other’s beliefs and positions.”

Students from BVU’s Black Student Union also planned to join the protest on Saturday by taking a knee during the national anthem.

The protest received immediate backlash on the college newspaper’s web site.

A former coach said he would never have allowed the kneeling, and that any athletes who had wanted to take such action would have been off his team. “Politics needs to stay out of it,” he said, indicating that he and his wife would stop making donations to the university over such action.

A 1980 graduate and Naval officer said, “We went to BV to get a great education and to play D3 sports, not to be political activists.” He predicted that alumni will be “done with BVU” if the coaches allowed such action.

Another graduate responded, “Please get involved in the community and help educate young minds on what the national anthem is all about.

Taking a knee at the football game is not the right platform. As a former player and graduate of BVU, I’m disappointed to see this.”

Most of the response on the situation on the Pilot-Tribune’s Facebook page over the weekend was also strongly against the kneeling protests, some saying they would no longer support or attend games at BVU, but a few voiced support for the players’ rights.

“It's their right ... no reason to hate them, or withhold donations to them, or alienate them. Also don't put words in their mouths and make their actions mean something different than what they are doing it for. They are not saying anything about our military, or about soldiers that have died protecting our freedoms, they are saying they sympathize to unfair racial issues. Believe in it or not, let them be them,” one man said.

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  • Very disappointed to see this in our local colleges. I understand the idea behind this, but the protest has not produced any results besides making a lot of people upset. We understand that there is an issue, which means you can stop protesting now...now people need to figure out a solution to the problem!

    -- Posted by Zj81 on Tue, Oct 3, 2017, at 9:13 AM
  • "the protest has not produced any results besides making a lot of people upset." That's exactly what the intent is, to make people upset about injustice in America.

    I too have wondered how this will now conclude that traitor trump threw a nuclear bomb on it to explode across America and divide us by lying about what it is about and about it not being racial. But then again I don't believe a thing he says even if I agree with it. And like everything else he is associated with, he makes it all worse. I've known people like this, they pass through, leaving chaos in their wake for everyone else to clean up and moving on to new virgin territory to destroy, looking only forward, pretending there are no issues.

    -- Posted by helped_myself on Tue, Oct 3, 2017, at 9:35 AM
  • You do realize this all started when Obama was president? ;)

    -- Posted by clayfarmer on Tue, Oct 3, 2017, at 10:14 AM
  • I realize that the intent of the protest was to make people angry, I guess what I meant was that it hasn't produced any positive results. They got the attention of the country...now what are we going to do about it. I don't feel this protest is political, it is racial and as President of the U.S., Trump is obligated to talk about it, just as Obama did. He could've done a better job at it, I agree.

    It's not JUST Trump that is dividing the country. It is also people who refuse to accept anything he says. We can not come together as a country when people get so closed minded that they will not accept anything someone says just because of who they are or what political affiliation they are with. You said "I don't believe a thing he says even if I agree with it", and that right there is what is dividing the country and making things worse! I am not a Trump supporter, but he is our President and I hope that everyone can get together and discuss things as adults and make positive changes.

    -- Posted by Zj81 on Tue, Oct 3, 2017, at 12:51 PM
  • Despicable!!

    -- Posted by Betty fred on Tue, Oct 3, 2017, at 7:34 PM
  • For all the "problems" the United States has, there sure seems to be a lot of people still trying to get in, from every race and religion on Planet Earth.

    You'd think with all the "racists" in this country, and the horrible things they do on a daily basis, those so deeply offended would be leaving in droves and certainly not flocking here. But nope, not the case at all. Weird.

    -- Posted by Dick Butkus on Tue, Oct 3, 2017, at 10:03 PM
  • The guy who started the protest is the only one doing anything about it and he's not even in the league. Weather or not he deserves to be on a roster is another debate but I applaud him for putting his money where is mouth is or in this case, back into community involvement to rectify the problem.

    -- Posted by CubbieBlue on Wed, Oct 4, 2017, at 9:36 AM
  • I know the silent peaceful protest started under Obama, and I guess traitor trump gets credit for smashing it in your face. And now, he’s tired of that weekend’s entertainment and on to more havoc. Otherwise, would any single one of you even be talking about racial inequality in America if not for the kneeling? I really doubt it. You have to see a problem first before you can do anything about it. Obviously trump supporters believe the kneeling is a poke in the eye to the military and America, so they still haven’t even opened their eyes to the core issue of this. As far as doing anything….there are many who quietly give money, time, effort, skills to provide opportunities for those that don’t have it laid at their feet. Because you aren’t aware of it or looked for it or needed it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. It’s been going on for decades.

    And if anyone blatantly and provably lies to my face a fraction what traitor trump does, I avoid them as much as possible. I certainly don’t rely on anything they say. Do you have some magical way of knowing when trump ISN’T lying? You could make a fortune sharing that with the world. That’s why leaders of other countries and leaders of industry are ignoring him and proceeding with business at hand. Do you allow your family and friends to lie to you over and over and over again and keep believing them to your own detriment? If so, you need help. Otherwise, I have some ocean front property in Iowa to sell you. It’s YUGE! It’s the best! Buhlieve Me!

    -- Posted by helped_myself on Wed, Oct 4, 2017, at 10:38 AM
  • How does this relate at all to the military? Don't the branches of the military have their own anthems? This is the national anthem. And you hear support from military people saying they fought so these people would have the right to peaceful protests and then you hear military people saying the exact opposite. And how can any of us raised in white rural Iowa even begin to understand racial inequality?

    -- Posted by joe2 on Thu, Oct 5, 2017, at 11:00 AM
  • "And how can any of us raised in white rural Iowa even begin to understand racial inequality?"

    The same way we learn to understand religion, science, math, sports, music/arts, the world, etc. Read about it, talk to people that are experienced/effected by it, listen to experts, visit related locations if possible, watch documentaries, take classes, etc. That's the beauty of our world. Anything we want to know about is at our disposal with little effort. The more information absorbed the better to get a valid representation, as not all sources present the same information. Getting as much as possible allows the true facts to come through. If only 1 in a few dozen sources has differing information, you can decide to believe the one or the many sources (ie. is there or isn't there climate change happening).

    Kudos on taking a first and second step. Seeing a need for more info and starting a search to get it.

    -- Posted by helped_myself on Fri, Oct 6, 2017, at 9:57 AM
  • I'm trying to understand how a quiet, peaceful protest is so disgraceful? Last Friday night while I stood with the rest of the crowd at our high school football game, I had to endure hearing the two adults behind me continue their conversation through the ENTIRE anthem.

    Please, someone, tell me how quietly kneeling (kind of like a lot of us do Sunday mornings during worship services) is more disrespectful than talking through the anthem? Trust me, the conversation topic was not more important. These things happen all the time. I have yet to hear anyone complain about those instances.

    -- Posted by muvymatt on Fri, Oct 6, 2017, at 10:37 AM
  • Buena Vista University president Merchant’s statement in the Spencer Daily Reporter regarding students respect for veterans is terribly insulting to military personnel, veterans, and patriots in this country. It is the typical type of political pandering I expect from elected officials whose only interest is to be re-elected, and not from the president of a university.

    Merchant’s statement "BVU respects our military members and our veterans" is certainly not true. A university cannot respect, nor can it disrespect. However, the actions of its administrators, faculty, coaches, and students may be judged to reflect favorably or unfavorably upon the university. Read on and judge for yourself.

    I'm a veteran who has served my country with honor and pride, and I thank God every day that I was allowed the honor to do so! When people thank me for my service, my sincere response has always been 'it was my pleasure and honor to serve my country'.

    Men and women of honor who have served, or are serving, in the United States Armed Forces take the vows of defending our country very seriously. We are defenders of the freedoms that many BVU administrators, coaches, faculty, and students use to show disrespect to the very values we uphold. To the honorable veteran, marine, airman, soldier, sailor, and civilian, the U.S. flag represents liberty, justice, and humanity. 'Taking a knee' at a time when it is proper and appropriate for all citizens to show respect, and to honor the principles that bind us together as a nation, is incredibly disrespectful to those of us who love and cherish the freedoms we have, and the flag that represents those freedoms.

    So what can I do?

    BVU is my alma mater and I loved being a BV Beaver (2005). Being an alum, I receive 4 or 5 letters from the university a year asking for donations. Occasionally, I respond. No longer. I urge you to do the same.

    BVU is indeed a business of education competing with other universities for students and student dollars. One of the best ways to effect change of a business’s practices is to tell prospective customers the truth about the business itself; Buena Vista University administration, faculty, and students collaboratively decided that it's appropriate to take a knee (or not) during the national anthem according to President Merchant's quote in Spencer Daily Reporter.

    As a high school teacher, I will not recommend BVU to prospective students. In fact, I might discourage them from choosing BVU. It is, by the very law that BVU students, coaches, faculty, and administration hides behind to desecrate the ideals of this country, my right to dissuade students from attending that university.

    I urge you to contact the Buena Vista University Board of Trustees if you are outraged by this display of disrespect to our members of the US armed forces and veterans.

    -- Posted by tornadosciguy on Fri, Oct 6, 2017, at 11:26 PM
  • Not surprised to see racism and ignorance still alive and flourishing among the elite of Steve Kingdom.

    -- Posted by ericstimson on Sat, Oct 7, 2017, at 7:06 PM
  • Not surprising to see the left view respecting the flag as racism. Oh , and Matt, you could have turned around and said something.

    -- Posted by clayfarmer on Mon, Oct 9, 2017, at 8:40 AM
  • This is the first time I've seen anyone calling respecting the flag as racist. Everyone respects the flag: standing, kneeling, talking, etc. Kneeling to draw attention to the inequality in America is not disrespecting the flag. And it worked.

    People complain about peaceful marches. They complain about quiet kneeling. Just where and when should people express their first amendment rights that actually gets people's attention?

    -- Posted by helped_myself on Mon, Oct 9, 2017, at 9:26 AM
  • Clayfarmer...where you there? How do you know I didn't say something to the two? My point is they talked through the anthem, thus being disrespectful, as have others for years and years...not if I or anyone else scolded them. And, yes, I thanked them for the worthless gossip.

    -- Posted by muvymatt on Mon, Oct 16, 2017, at 8:48 AM
  • Doesn't matter anymore. The twitterer in chief is tired of this one weekend diversion when he couldn't find his fidget spinner. It's back where it was before, losing attention and being ignored. trump's back to destroying everything he can and never offers anything constructive to replace the havoc and chaos he creates. Much like hurricanes.

    -- Posted by helped_myself on Mon, Oct 16, 2017, at 9:52 AM
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