Southern Illinois University Bans Displays Of Activism In Response To Anthem Protests

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In response to three of its cheerleaders taking a knee during the National Anthem last fall, Southern Illinois University has issued changes to its athletic code of conduct, inserting language prohibiting displays of activism while participating in games and/or events.

Some of the new language states:

“Members of the department including student-athletes cheerleaders and spirit members must remain neutral on any issue political in nature when wearing SIU official uniforms and when competing/performing in official department of athletics events and activities…Any display (verbal or non-verbal) of activism (either for or against) a political issue will not be tolerated and may result in dismissal from the program.”

Speaking to the Daily Egyptian, the student news site of Southern Illinois University, new athletics administrator Liz Jarnigan had this to say:

“We are just not wanting anybody who represents the department of athletics and wears the colors to get involved in heated discourse on one side or the other…It’s not the appropriate place and we are not wanting to make political statements of any kind when were representing the university, the Department of Athletics, any academic institution and southern Illinois in general.”

Alaysia Brandy, one of the cheerleaders who knelt during the fall, had stated that she had decided to not kneel again during the anthem before the new code of conduct had been issued. “It was already decided upon to not take a knee again because we accomplished what we were going for by bringing attention to our cause and now it’s time for change,” Brandy stated.

However, she stood by her opinion of why the protests were made in the first place. She said:

“Background checks on said police officers and when it does come down to them breaking the law and abusing their power they need to be held accountable to the fullest to show other officers you can’t get away with crime, that you can’t hide behind a badge,”

Last fall, as the protests surrounding the national anthem began to become a bigger controversy, Southern Illinois University attempted to hide the cheerleaders from the public eye. They were barred from courtside at basketball games and were brought out after the anthem had been sung.

The Southern Illinois Salukis begin their 2018 football season on Thursday, Aug. 29 against the Murray State Racers.

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