Kennesaw State rescinds change that kept cheerleaders off field during national anthem

2:50 p.m Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 AJC Homepage
Cory Hancock/Cory Hancock
Three cheerleaders are seen kneeling in the tunnel by the field during the national anthem before Saturday's matchup between Kennesaw State and Gardner-Webb, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (Special by Cory Hancock) Four cheerleaders kneeled during the anthem to continue the protests at KSU football games.

Kennesaw State University president Sam Olens announced Wednesday he’s ending a controversial change that kept some cheerleaders from kneeling on the football field during the national anthem to protest police misconduct.

KSU has been under the national microscope since five African-American cheerleaders took a knee during the anthem before the football team’s Sept. 30 game and the decision days later to keep all cheerleaders off the field during the anthem. Some felt KSU’s decision violated the students’ free speech rights.

“While I believe there are more effective ways to initiate an exchange of ideas on issues of national concern, the right to exercise one’s freedom of speech under the First Amendment must be protected,” Olens wrote in a letter to students, faculty and staff.

The Georgia Board of Regents is conducting a special review of how KSU responded to the cheerleaders’ actions.

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