After a video of another high school student picking up his kneeling peer during the national anthem went viral, the internet labeled him hero or scoundrel.
Connor O’Brien, a high school senior at Los Alamitos High School in California, was the center of outrage and praise for forcing a student to the standing position during the student’s silent protest. Twitter users combed through O’Brien’s account and finding college offers plastered on his timeline.
Billie Lamb, a sophomore criminal justice major from St. George, said although she can see where O’Brien is coming from, she doesn’t believe he should have interrupted the protest.
“This incident would have gone by with little to no attention if [O’Brien] would have done nothing,” Lamb said. “Silent protests only have so much power, the rest of the power is given by bystander attention.”
On the other hand, Daniel Ritchey, a junior psychology major from Hurricane, said O’Brien’s actions were completely uncalled for and stunted another student’s right to free speech and expression.
“I wouldn’t take it as far as assault, like I have see [online],” Ritchey said. “But I would say that it was an infringement on the other student’s ability to speak his mind and show what he believes in.”
Users immediately called for the mentioned colleges to retract their offers, including Dixie State University.
Darlene Dilley, assistant vice president for enrollment management, said although a new measure was put in place in the admissions process, it does not account for social matters, but more legislative and judicial.
“One thing that we did add this year to the application was a judicial question,” Dilley said. “So [we ask] if a student has been convicted of a [crime].”
Dilley said the university maintains its open enrollment status but will continue to review applications through an admissions committee.
“We want to protect the institution as well, so there is a process,” Dilley said. “But for students who are eligible and qualify and don’t answer ‘yes’ to [the judicial] question, for the most part they are admitted.”
O’Brien declined to comment on the incident, but later posted on his timeline: “Just thought I would let you know that due to the video my offers have been pulled…” O’Brien deleted the tweet days later.