Texas A&M lets Students Hang Flags in Dorms

By By U Wire

By U Wire

COLLEGE STATION, Texas?In the wake of a public fervor, Texas A&M University officials reversed course Monday and announced that students living on campus will be allowed to hang American flags outside residence halls.

?There was a misinterpretation about the [Department of] Residence Life policy addressing safety,? said Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. J. Malon Southerland. ?I want to make it clear that there is no prohibition against flying the American flag.?

Residence Life rules prohibit students from hanging any objects from their windows because of concerns that students may injure themselves leaning out of upper-level windows, but Southerland said he felt compelled to issue a ?clarification? because of the widespread misunderstanding that the rule applies to the American flag.

?The American flag was the only object at issue, and I?m saying the American flag can be flown, but the policy still applies to all other objects,? Southerland said.

Students hanging American flags from their windows must do so in a safe manner, Southerland said, and University personnel are available to assist them.

Southerland declined to comment further on his decision or how safety would be ensured.

?That?s [safety] between Residence Life staff and students,? Southerland said.

The flag controversy erupted after the Residence Hall Association (RHA), which represents on-campus residents, voted against a resolution at its Oct. 10 meeting requesting Residence Life make an exception and allow students to hang American flags from their windows. The resolution was derailed after opponents said it would be discriminatory to make an exception for the U.S. flag.

Chris Bernard, the RHA delegate who proposed the resolution and a senior wildlife and fisheries science major, said he was pleased with Southerland?s decision.

?People were being told to take down their flags, and that’s just not right,? Bernard said. ?This is the United States, and nobody should ever be told they can’t fly the American flag.?

RHA?s decision upset many on-campus residents, who said the delegates failed to represent their constituents.

?If they put that resolution to a campus-wide vote, it would have passed overwhelmingly, but it has become a habit for delegates to act without regard to what their residents want,? said Don Giannangeli, president of Dunn Hall and a sophomore nuclear engineering major. ?[RHA delegates are] so concerned about not pissing anyone off that there’s a tendency toward inaction, and that vote was pretty gutless.?

Stephanie Hines, RHA vice president and a senior chemistry major, said she did not know if the RHA vote accurately reflected student opinion and said it was up to each delegate to gather student input from their respective halls on issues to be discussed at RHA meetings.

Bernard said he hoped the flag-display controversy would prompt students to be more attentive to campus affairs.

?If people feel they are not being represented well, they need to get involved and find out what?s happening so they can hold their delegates accountable,? Bernard said.