Student Legislative Council Votes to Ban American Flag


Is American flag "offensive" in an "inclusive" area?

Is American flag “offensive” in an “inclusive” area?


In January, a member of Associated Students at the University of California’s Irvine Campus (ASUCI) hung an American flag on one of the walls of the lobby outside the student government offices. Students who disagreed with the flag’s placement removed it and left a note on the desk of the ASCUI President. A few months later the Legislative Council of ASCUI passed (by a 6-4 vote) a resolution stating that “no flag, of any nation, may be hanged on the walls” of ASCUI’s main lobby spaces.

Included in the resolution document are the following: Flags are a symbol of a nation and while the U.S. flag symbolizes freedom, equality, and democracy, it has also flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism. A common ideological understanding of the U.S. includes exceptionalism and superiority. Displaying a flag expresses all of its interpretations. Culturally inclusive spaces remove barriers that inhibit everyone from participating equally and confidently. Thus, the resolution to ban all national flags.

Most students who discussed the resolution opposed it because of its inclusion of the American flag. Donald La said he didn’t think the resolution represented what the student body wanted and would support. He added, “I don’t personally agree with it either”.

Alumni of the University denounced the resolution. State legislature members were outraged and discussed proposing a constitutional amendment that would prohibit any state-funded college or university from banning the American flag on its campus. UC-I officials issued a statement calling the resolution “misguided.” Chancellor Howard Gillman said the view of the six students who voted in favor of the resolution are not representative of the 30,000 member student body.

President of ASUCI Reza Zomorrodian stated that she was firmly against the resolution although she understood the intent of the author and supporters. Two days after the resolution to ban flags was passed, it was vetoed by the ASUCI Executive Cabinet. In the statement announcing  the veto, the members of the Executive Cabinet wrote in part that they fundamentally disagreed with the resolution and they reaffirmed their “commitment to diversity as a campus in all aspects and ideals associated with it.”

The students who passed the resolution later apologized. They also gave their rationale for the resolution: “We voted with the intention of creating a safe, culturally inclusive space for all individuals after being approached with conflicts between other members of ASUCI surrounding the U.S. flag.”  The students claimed to have been coerced into apologizing but UC-I’s Office of Student Affairs said that was “absolutely incorrect.”

Letters of support for the six students who passed the resolution has over 500 signatures. It stated in part that nationalism, including U.S. nationalism, often contributes to racism and xenophobia and that the paraphernalia of nationalism is in fact used to intimidate.


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