Senate keeps pledge, asks Biegel to resign
On the same night Student Senate voted to keep the Pledge of Allegiance in its weekly agenda, the governing body added to a growing list of groups requesting City Council member Toby Biegel resign from his City Council position.
Biegel was arrested Oct. 16 and charged with drunken driving and resisting an officer after a traffic stop in Chippewa County. It was Biegel’s third drunk driving arrest, his first since 1998.
According to police, Biegel was pepper-sprayed and forcibly removed from his vehicle, which also contained opened beer cans.
Biegel represents District 3, which encompasses the university and residence halls as well as some off-campus student housing.
“Imagine if he would have hit somebody,” Senator David Koslov said. “Let’s pass this through.”
Senate voted in favor of the resolution 20-4. The Leader-Telegram and The Spectator also have admonished him.
Biegel, in his third two-year term on City Council, said he had been advised by his attorney not to comment on the case, but did say he was disappointed the resolution was passed by Student Senate before the case had played out.
That same concern was also brought up by Senator Ray French, who added he didn’t believe elected officials should be held to a higher standard.
“It would be irresponsible to ask for his resignation when he still got elected,” French said.
Senator Kathryn Wineke said Biegel represents university students and does not set a good example in what is already a drinking culture.
“This is not acceptable,” Wineke said. “We need to send a message that this is not OK.”
Vice President De Anna Breault added the alleged incident occurred on Homecoming weekend, when officials praised students for generally good behavior.
While that resolution passed, the Senate did not pass a bill that would have eliminated the Pledge of Allegiance from
Senator Aaron Brewster amended the bill with a provision that would have replaced the Pledge with a moment of silence for those who have served in the military.
But the bill was still voted down, 16-6, with four abstaining.
Senator Jacob Boer proposed the bill, in part, because of the phrase “under God” and because the Pledge is not recited at other university government meetings, such as University Senate or United Hall Council.
At one point during the debate, he asked senators to stand while he recited the Lord’s Prayer.
He said he remembered it word-for-word despite not saying it in years, and compared it to the Pledge as a reading people say without realizing its true meaning.
In addition to senators debating, multiple members of the gallery also spoke.
Eric Link, a corporal in the U.S. Marines, said senators were speaking for everyone, including those currently overseas, whether they knew it or not.
He also said he had no problem with people refusing to say the Pledge but those who do want to recite it should not be denied that option.
Husband and wife Lanette and Doug Black, who are university students, also spoke out against the bill.
“If my face turns red it’s because my blood pressure is rising,” Lanette Black said, mentioning their son’s service in Iraq.
Some senators voting for the bill said their religious beliefs were in conflict with the bill.
“As an atheist, I do find it exclusive,” Senator Ashley Wickenhauser said, adding that staying up to speed on current events is “more patriotic than saying the Pledge.”