ONU marching band selected to participate in Inaugural Parade
Olivet was announced, through a press release by the inaugural committee on Friday, as one of 40 organizations to participate in the Presidential Inaugural Parade on Jan. 20.
The announcement caused an uproar on social media, leaving people to question Olivet’s motives behind the decision to participate and whether or not this was a political statement.
President Bowling responded to the criticism, “The University does not support any candidate or party – we are not monolithic or of one mind. Such is the nature of a university. We are not making a political statement by participating.”
Bowling went on to say that Olivet would have participated if former Secretary Hilary Clinton had won the election, as well as for President Obama if they had been invited for his inaugural parade.
Dr. Matt Stratton, university director of athletic bands, submitted an application for the marching band to participate in the parade. Last year, the marching band was a part of the New Year’s Day Parade in London and has achieved a reputation of excellence.
“God has been taking us places and so we’re going and performing,” Stratton said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.
Despite this, students and alumni flooded social media with comments ranging from how this opportunity is an “honor” to “participating is anti-Christian.” Several people have even gone as far to say this was Olivet endorsing the beliefs held by the President-elect.
Bowling added that, “Clearly there is a high degree of intolerance at both ends of the political spectrum, which in this case is assigning to Olivet a position(s) we do not hold.”
“The way I see it is not supporting the man, but our nation. This event is historical and wasn’t made for just Trump himself, this is a major process for the United States presidency and I personally am honored to represent ONU and Illinois in this parade. You may not like the guy, but this is a solid way for us to bring Christ to the capital,” said Thomas Rankin, a Sophomore marching band member.
Junior marching band member Sarah Buffa said that many band members do not support Trump and are instead participating for the experience. “If people can just understand we are not doing this for Trump then we would be fine. There seems to be a misunderstanding that we are going to support him. Not true. Musically this will be great for our program and for Olivet. People will know our name and see what we have to offer.”
“This parade I feel will give Olivet an even more professional profile than it already has, musically as well as politically if everyone against it will just allow us the experience without all the unnecessary controversy,” Rankin said. “Overall, this experience will be great for the University and an amazing opportunity for us members of the band.”
“I believe God is working in every situation. I will march in this parade with great pride trusting my Lord every step of the way. He is working and will continue to work even with Trump in the White House,” Buffa added.
This post will continue to be updated as the story develops.
– Allie Alexy, Executive Editor