Editor’s Note (08/16/20) for CT coverage on major campus events leading up to the flag removal, look at articles tagged flag display.
The iconic flag display on the first floor of Wilson Commons was temporarily taken down last night in response to ongoing complaints about the accuracy of the flags.
The display, located in Hirst Lounge, is meant to be a visual representation of the current student population at UR. The bulk of flags are displayed in alphabetical order for states recognized by the United Nations, and there are additional sections for Native American Sovereign nations, U.S. Territories, and “Other Countries and Regions,” according to the display’s webpage.
According to an email by SA President Justyna Gorka and Vice President Marc Haddad, the flags were taken down at the request of President Sarah Mangelsdorf and Provost Robert Clark in response to “concerns raised about the display in past semesters.”
Last November, the display caused controversy when Hong Kong and Taiwan were placed under Other Countries and Regions — the only two flags in that section — instead of the main alphabetically organized section.
Gorka told CT in a written statement that the flags will likely not be reinstated until the Undergraduate Flag Subcommittee group formed to address last November’s controversy can “reconvene to continue conversations for the spring” about how to best represent UR’s global community.
“SA Leadership in particular wasn’t made aware until last night that it was happening,” Gorka wrote. “When we received word, we were under the assumption that we’d at least have the weekend to react. However, that was not the case and the flags were gone by morning.”
Gorka and Haddad publicly denounced this decision in their school-wide email, calling for the flags to be put back up, and for more student input on these issues in the future.
“We also want assurance that a rash decision like this will not happen again without proper communication first,” they wrote. “It is disrespectful to us as student representatives and to the students we represent.”