Local university leaders weigh in on NFL protests

New Orleans Saints players sit in protest during the National Anthem, Photo Date: 9/24/2017 (Ed Clemente / MGN)
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By: Amy Robinson | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 25, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Local university leaders are weighing in on the decision of dozens of NFL players to protest during the national anthem.

The move by players to kneel during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner began in 2016, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem to protest racial injustice in the U.S.

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump's criticism of the NFL protests gave the movement new life, with more than 100 football players kneeling or standing during the anthem.

Florida State University President John Thrasher, FSU Head Football Coach Jimbo Fisher, and Florida A&M University officials issued statements in regard to the protests and the potential impacts at the local level.

FSU President Thrasher said, "Florida State University is an institution of higher learning that recognizes a student’s right to freedom of expression. We are constantly working to ensure we have a campus where everyone can feel included and valued. We see this issue as an opportunity to continue to engage with and educate our students, even though I personally don’t agree with that form of protest. As a veteran, I will always stand up when the national anthem is played because of the sacrifices so many have made to protect the United States and what it represents."

FSU Head Football Coach Jimbo Fisher said, "I don't get caught up in that. If that's something we had to address, I've addressed that before. Each player has their own choice of what they want to represent or stand for. That's each individual's choice. Whether you kneel or don't kneel, that's your choice. Know that when you do those things, like I've said, you can affect other things. And it's not right or wrong. That's the thing about freedom. There's not a right answer to that. That's the greatness of living in our country, you have the freedom to express yourself how you want to. It doesn't mean you're a good guy, bad guy, indifferent guy, it just means what you believe in and what you stand for and I think that's on of the great things about our country."

Florida A&M University officials cited the FAMU Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, reading, "The University follows "The Freedom of Assembly-Demonstration Policy," which can be found in Regulation 2.030 (19). From a Student Affairs/Student Conduct perspective, students can engage in a protest or demonstration that is in compliance with the regulation and does not interfere with the normal operations of the University or infringe upon the rights of other members of the University community. The Policy can be found at https://www.famu.edu/regulations/2.030StudentActivities.pdf."

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