The national anthem, a familiar sight at Pomona College’s commencements in years past, was conspicuously absent at its commencement ceremony on May 13. While Pomona College has played the national anthem at its commencement ceremonies up through last year, the college omitted the patriotic tune at this year’s graduation ceremony. When asked to comment on the absence of the national anthem from commencement, Pomona College did not furnish a reply to the Independent despite repeated requests.
Claremont McKenna College, Scripps College, and Pitzer College—also members of the Claremont Colleges consortium—also did not play the national anthem. However, those colleges previously did not have the national anthem as part of their commencement ceremonies. Harvey Mudd College was the only Claremont College to play the national anthem at its commencement. Other peer institutions, including the University of California, Berkeley, Harvard College—an institution with a similar proportion of international students—and Amherst College, played the national anthem at their commencements, while Williams College and Stanford University respectively played “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” and “America the Beautiful”—both patriotic songs.
One Pomona sophomore gave his support for the omission of the national anthem, stating to the Independent on the condition of anonymity that its removal, “solidifies Pomona’s support for DACA students (and other Pomona students who have limited freedom in the US) making it a more international institution.”
“The Pomona student body (mostly) knows that American is not ‘the land of the free,’ as the star spangled banner suggests,” he added.
Quincy Clarke, a Pomona College alumnus who graduated on the May 13 ceremony and former editor at the Independent, echoed these thoughts:
“I think it would have been more profound if the absence were contextualized, but I barely noticed it. Even as a proud American, I am not too upset by the omission—and given the broadening makeup of nationalities and countries of origin in the student body, it’s not as necessarily representative of us as it would have been twenty or so years ago.”
Photo: Flickr / trevsand