The Goshen College community gathered in Newcomer 19 during lunch on Monday to continue discussion of the national anthem. A variety of responses were expected from the President’s Council, and the present community stated exactly that.
The discussion took the form of a question-and-answer time with President Jim Brenneman. Faculty, staff, students and community members were present and active in the discussion, including a man from Pennsylvania.
For some, like Heather Zimmerman, a Goshen College student, the national anthem is simply a part of the athletic ceremony. Zimmerman plays soccer for the women’s national team of Guam. Before each game, the anthems of the countries that are represented are played.
Zimmerman said the anthem is a “powerful, reflective time” when one can identify themselves as part of America.
Sophomore Peter Miller was also at the meeting.
“Can we engage our nation without doing it on the nation’s terms?” Peter Miller asked. Miller suggested playing the national anthem of all the players that are represented on the teams.
Kathy Meyer Reimer, an education professor, was worried that playing the national anthem wasn’t as hospitable as one might hope.
“One of the most hospitable things we can do is engage in conversation,” she said. Students at Goshen represent 40 different Christian denominations, in addition to a number of world religions. If students who haven’t grown up in a Mennonite church don’t know where Anabaptists stand on this subject, it becomes a very exclusive issue.
Brenneman explored how Goshen College can be a welcoming place when the things that make the college unique are what it doesn’t do.
“As Mennonites, we need to describe ourselves in a positive, contagious way,” Brenneman said.