In sports culture, there is a position that does not involve running, tackling, or catching. It is a position that is received with pride, and that has been evident in every single variation that has ever been sung. Being chosen to sing the National Anthem is a very special honor, and for this year’s Homecoming football game, Bridgewater State University’s Alexander Laitinen (he/him/his) will be the one to kick off this important game against Westfield State University.
Chosen by Dean Denine Rocco (she/her/hers) for his previous performance of “Give us Peace” at the 9/11 Memorial ceremony with the social justice choir, and the work the two did on the Big Queer welcome event. Laitinen said that Dean Denine thought his identity and voice is why he was chosen, “she decided that my voice, given that I am a music major and a prominent queer individual on campus, would be the best to be singing the National Anthem at the Homecoming game.”
Dean Rocco could not agree more saying, “I co-chair the Homecoming committee with Ellen Oliver, who is the executive director of the alumni office, and we were in a meeting talking about who we could get to sing the National Anthem, and we talked about where our focus as an institution is.” explained Rocco. “I said, you know, that social justice choir that sang at the 9/11 event? Let’s see if we can get them to sing. So, the faculty member didn’t think they would be ready, but I know Alex and know that he is a vocal major and he was part of that choir, and I thought, what a great representative of our institution.”
Despite being a junior, Laitinen is also a member of this year’s Homecoming Court as well. Having taken many AP classes in high school, he is technically considered a senior, and thought, why not?
“Given that I will be focusing heavily on my journey to student teaching next year, I figured that this year was the best year for me, given my situation, to join the Homecoming Court. I applied and got accepted,” said Laitinen.
Laitinen is one of the most involved students at BSU, holding positions in various organizations, and even the role of President of the new student organization, Council of Queer Student Leaders. He is also the Executive Secretary of Phi Kappa Theta, and these are only a few of his very long list of positions.
Although he explained that his skills tend to lean more towards his roles in multiple organizations, Laitinen’s love for music is obvious to anyone who has had even a single conversation with him, and that he has great respect for his craft and his place in the world.
“While I’ve experienced my fair share of hardships, because of the color of my skin I am still viewed by the world as someone with great privilege, and I recognize that on a daily basis.”In tandem with that, music is something that is for all people, no matter race, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, can understand and can relate to. With that being said, being able as a person who is white, to be able to sing and understand music from different cultures, different perspectives, different ways of life, is something that gets me out of bed every morning and wants me to listen, interpret, and create music of my own. The concept of being able to express emotion, history, and true unfiltered feeling through song is an art that I personally believe cannot be replicated in any of the other arts.”
Alex Laitinen is a pillar of the BSU community, and there is no doubt that without him the brightness that composes the student body would be significantly diminished. If you can, make your way to the BSU football field on the twenty-third in order to both support our team, and lend your applause to one of the best of the Bears.