At past presidential inaugurations, colleges and universities have boasted about being selected to march in the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. Students and their institutions get a moment in front of the new president and airtime on national television. This has been true for inaugurations of recent Democratic and Republican presidents alike.
The 2017 inauguration may be different. Marist College, in New York State, is facing a barrage of online criticism from students and alumni after confirming Thursday that its band is headed to Washington for the parade. Officials at Talladega College, a historically black college in Alabama, have not responded to local press inquiries (or to email from Inside Higher Ed) about reports that the college’s band is going to Washington as well. But the college is also facing criticism.
Here are some of the tweets about Marist, the first two typical of the many criticizing the decision and the last one reflecting support for the college’s stance.
Marist’s marching band is playing at Trump’s inauguration. In related news, how do I go about transferring schools
— Paige Garland (@paigegarl) December 30, 2016
Marist’s band performing at Trump’s inauguration gives a message to the public that no liberal arts college should be giving
— Noshin Chowdhury (@noshinxD) December 30, 2016
I’m sorry but these people blasting Marist for playing Trump’s inauguration are absurd. Party doesnt matter. Once in a lifetime experience
— Tim LeCras (@TimLeCrasTAP) December 30, 2016
A Marist spokesman told The Poughkeepsie Journal that the college applied to participate in the parade before Election Day, not knowing the outcome. He also said that Marist has applied to participate in past inaugural parades — “without regard” to the person being inaugurated — and has not been selected.
He said that students would not be forced to participate, but that this was “about providing our students an opportunity to participate in an internationally significant ceremony representing the peaceful transfer of power in the world’s most powerful nation.”
Many of the comments on social media about Talladega reference its status as a historically black college.
So Talladega College band playing for Donald Trump’s inauguration . How can you tarnish the legacy of an HBCU by associating it w| Trump?
— Cowboys (13-2) (@RockHolyfield) December 23, 2016
The Citadel announced on Facebook that its Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes, and its Summerall Guards would be marching in the parade. Comments posted on the college’s Facebook page have been almost entirely positive and congratulatory.