Pledge of Allegiance deemed inappropriate at Florida community college

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – A Hillsborough Community College Advisory Council made up of students, faculty and staff voted to drop the Pledge of Allegiance from its meetings.

While members of the Institutional Advisory Committee claim they took the action to save time, preliminary minutes from their September meeting show there was a heated discussion about “The Pledge of Allegiance and its appropriateness in an institution of higher learning which fosters academic freedom and structured dissent against authority.”

“Some members expressed views that the Pledge made some people uncomfortable and that it violated their beliefs in academic freedom and the goals of the IAC,” according to minutes from the meeting.

“We don’t support the decision that was made, and again, those minutes aren’t final,” H.C.C. Director of Marketing and Public Relations Ashley Carl stated. “Dr. Atwater, our college president, will be going to our next IAC meeting and discussing this issue with them.  We don’t support that decision.”

H.C.C. student and navy veteran Brad Richlin also has a problem with the IAC’s decision.

“It troubles me especially as a vet, because there are men and women on a daily basis that are dying to give these campuses and all of us americans, you know academic freedom  religious freedom, and they are dying for that flag and what it represents,” Brad said.

According to Ashley Carl, the discussion about the Pledge started out as a way to save time, then went in another direction.

“We look forward to having a robust discussion about it, to better understand why this might violate academic freedom at their next meeting,” she said.

In an email the chair of the IAC, Sunshine Gibbons, disputed the accuracy of the preliminary minutes.

HCC Southshore campus voted alone to keep the Pledge of Allegiance for its IAC meetings
HCC Southshore campus voted alone to keep the Pledge of Allegiance for its IAC meetings

“The draft of the minutes that was sent out does not accurately reflect what actually happened at the meeting.  I am in the process of correcting them at this time.  These should not have been made available,” the email stated.

“I don’t understand what the thinking is here, maybe perhaps they’re not thinking,” Brad Richlin said.


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