Officials at Eastern Carolina University have released a statement in the wake of protests by a marching band Oct. 1 declaring that similar actions will no longer be permitted.
In all, 19 members of the ECU Pirates marching band took a knee while playing the national anthem ahead of a football game, WNCT reported.
Some students played their instruments while kneeling, but others did not play them at all.
Three administrators -- William Staub, Director of Athletic Bands; Chris Ulffers, Director of the School of Music; and Chris Buddo, Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication -- wrote a letter in response.
“College is about learning, and it is our expectation that the members of the Marching Pirates will learn from this experience and fulfill their responsibilities," read the statement. "While we affirm the right of all our students to express their opinions, protests of this nature by the Marching Pirates will not be tolerated moving forward."
The officials said they had met with the band as a whole.
“We regret the actions taken by 19 members of the East Carolina University Marching Pirates on game day October 1st felt hurtful to many in our Pirate family and disrespectful to our country. We understand and respect this is an issue where emotions are strong,” the statement added.
The practice of kneeling during the anthem was begun by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during pre-season and has since spread to other teams across the country.
Some students opposed the university’s ban on future protests.
“I have deep military roots,” one student told WNCT. “I don’t think it’s disrespectful in anyway shape or form. It would be disrespectful if you were to distract somebody else from showing their respect towards the flag, but taking a knee is not hurting anybody. So honestly a peaceful protest such as that; bringing awareness does no harm to nobody.”
Another student suggested the 19 students had rights too: “Even if you don’t agree with their opinions, like doesn’t matter, they’re still humans.”
The ECU campus was the scene of further protests Oct. 3, when students held a “die in” against racial injustice. The demonstration was organized by RESIST ECU, which stands for Relentlessly End Social Injustice by Solidarity and Teaching.
WITN reported that some students watching the die in said they did not agree with the band’s protest at the football game. However, no comments from students were cited to this effect.