Photo by George Anton ’21 | Aidan Angel ’22 and Damon Dallago ’22 lower and fold the flag at the end of the day.
By George Anton ’21 and Jackson Moran ’21
On Aug. 22, the Brophy Young Republicans distributed a petition asking respondents about their support for adding the Pledge of Allegiance to the end of morning prayer.
The petition was met with some backlash from administrators as it had not been seen nor approved before being distributed.
Max Murphy ’21 and Bernie Banahan ’20, the creators of the petition, originally sent it out to teachers and students within the social studies department.
“We sent it to Ms. [Kelly] Guffey, the head of the social studies department,” Murphy said. “We figured that was the best way to go about it.”
Murphy added that Ms. Guffey was receptive of the idea and that by the end of the night they had gotten 36 responses.
Of those responses, Murphy said he had received 35 positives and only one negative.
He then brought the survey to Mrs. Sandra Dennard to put in the daily bulletin, but the survey never made an appearance.
Murphy also said that he spoke to Mr. Tony Oldani about the pledge.
“He likes our idea, he’s a big supporter of it. It’s just that he wasn’t too happy that we went ahead and sent out the form without talking to him or anyone else about it beforehand,” Murphy said.
Shortly thereafter he and Banahan were contacted by Principal Mr. Bob Ryan, as one of the teachers who had received the petition had sent it to him asking if he had any knowledge of it.
“I think it’s a good question to ask, my reaction wasn’t to the content of the survey, just the notion of student-generated surveys being pushed out to the student body without some vetting process,” Mr. Ryan said.
Mr. Ryan added that he would potentially be more receptive to a version of the petition that was properly reviewed and approved.
“That’s part of the issue. The thing was generated without any kind of conversation with the faculty or administration, so I asked that it not be distributed,” Mr. Ryan.
Murphy complied and stopped sending out the survey.
“Not enough people took it to have an accurate result. If Mr. Ryan would let us pass the petition around again, I think the results could be more well rounded, we could get a variety of people to respond,” Murphy said.
Mr. Ryan expressed his feelings on survey results saying, “I’m not convinced they really tell you much. If 40% of the student body completes a survey and 80% of those that complete it indicate ‘x,’ then I don’t know what that really tells us.”
He was also unsure that a survey was even the proper approach to the issue.
“Here’s the deal with surveys: we don’t do them often because [students] do not respond to them well, so we are hesitant to issue surveys because the more you receive, the less likely you are to complete the ones that we really need to complete,” Mr. Ryan said.
Mr. Ryan and Murphy, however, have been in conversation since then regarding the reasoning behind adding the pledge as well as the feasibility of adding it.
“He didn’t really say yes or no to anything at the conference we had, but he liked our ideas and told us to sit back and wait,” Murphy said.
“One of the things we talked about was how our primary identity as a school is that of a Catholic school, and so to anchor ourselves to that identity at the start of every day is important to us,” Mr. Ryan said.
The two students suggested adding it to the daily announcements, but Mr. Ryan was also unsure of that.
“One of the cons is the pragmatics of it, announcements aren’t really well utilized here,” Mr. Ryan said.
Mr. Ryan does believe that there is value in saying the pledge and doing other patriotic acts.
“I think it’s important fostering civic engagement and civic pride is one of the outcomes that we all strive for around here.”
However, Mr. Ryan expressed some hesitation as a result of the current political environment.
“I think patriotism has been weaponized, politically, and I’m really unconvinced that initiating a pledge is going to bring people together rather than create controversy and drive people apart,” Mr. Ryan said.
Murphy said he doesn’t believe it should be mandatory for all students to say it, citing that people are able to have their own beliefs and the right to express them.
“I’m not convinced that it’s really going to deepen people’s appreciation for this country,” Mr. Ryan said.
Mr. Ryan also suggested other ways in which students could honor the flag and the country, such as possibly ritualizing the flag raising each morning.
“It’s a really important ritual for us to sing the national anthem before all of our home events, which I think is very important,” Mr. Ryan said.
Mr. Ryan was overall looking forward to continuing dialogue with Murphy and thought that their conversations were fruitful and productive.
Murphy added that while it was frustrating not getting concrete answers, he thought it was a good meeting and appreciated the time they were given.
“My grandpa was a multi war veteran and I’m pretty sure that just about everybody on campus has neighbors or friends or family who have served in the military,” Murphy said, “These people gave their lives to defend what we enjoy every day and I think we should take 22 seconds to respect that.”