By José Najas
Earlier this fall, a Pitzer student, who serves as events coordinator, raised concerns about an American flag hung from a student's balcony. She claimed that the flag brought “malicious” impact and urged the student to remove it via a college emailing list.
The events coordinator disclosed the location of the student’s dormitory then declared that “the American Flag is not only a symbol of hatred, but a threat to students of color, and makes a multitude of students feel unsafe.” She emphasized the added insensitivity of the flag being hung two days after Indigenous People’s Day. Then, she asserted that “the intent of the action is not important.” Finally, she “[implored] the residents to remove the flag.”
Other Pitzer students quickly joined in. One student recounted how she “saw the white guy who hung it up and asked him to take it down. He responded ‘No. Why? This is America, right?’ As a black student on this campus…That flag makes me feel unsafe and invisible in so many ways… let’s not act like this country doesnt actively murder people that look like me on a daily basis…If you love this country so much, HANG THAT SHIT UP IN YOUR ROOM”.
Another student wrote, “Pitzer has the most ignorant student body on god. Core values my a$$. Pitzer admin needs to do a better job selecting students in accordance with the supposed social justice practice as this campus is ANYTHING BUT a safe space for POC… Please read a book or something so POC can stop having to explain basic empathy to you.”
Another student added, “If it offends people it should be taken down. This isn’t a discussion about rights.”
Regarding civility, another wrote, “It’s not the time for Native Americans and other [POC] to be nice when their entire existence is already constantly being tokenized, threatened, and abused by the entire institution we attend.”
One student, who agreed that the flag was a negative, wrote, “[It’s] well within their rights and yours to display/talk about a flag that still represents this country… We cannot in good conscience ask for our rights to be respected while simultaneously trying to suppress someone else's rights. It doesn’t work that way”.
In response, the student was called out by name for playing devil's advocate and for lacking empathy. In the end, the flag was removed.
Image via Pitzer College