The Associated Students of University of California, Irvine (ASUCI), the student government organization at the university voted in early March to remove the American flag from the organization’s lobby saying the flag was a “symbol of patriotism or weapons of nationalism.”
The vote was 6-4 with two abstentions.
Using language borrowed from state legislatures or Congress, the Student Government passed “bill” number R50-70 banning the American Flag for the following reasons: Whereas,
“[F]lags construct paradigms of conformity and sets [sic] homogenized standards for others to obtain which in this country typically are idolized as freedom, equality, and democracy.”
“[T]he American flag has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism,” the bill continues, arguing that “symbolism has negative and positive aspects that are interpreted differently by individuals.”
“[F]reedom of speech, in a space that aims to be as inclusive as possible[,] can be interpreted as hate speech…”
Supporters of the bill said that that the (American) flag may be interpreted as a symbol of “American exceptionality and superiority” or “oppression.” As such, the flag could be interpreted as hate speech. The language of the legislation concludes with three resolutions:
- “Let it be resolved that ASUCI make every effort to make the Associated Students main lobby space as inclusive as possible.”
- “Let it further be resolved that no flag, of any nation, may be hanged on the walls of the Associate Student main lobby space.”
- “Let it be further be resolved that if a decorative item is in the Associate student lobby space and issues arise, the solution will be to remove the item if there is considerable request to do so.”
ASUCI President Reza Zomorrodian spoke against the bill saying:
I stand firmly against this piece of legislation, though I understand the authors intent, I disagree with the solution Council has come to”…“As Chair of the Executive Cabinet we will be having a conversation about this piece of legislation and deciding what course of action the cabinet will take collectively.”
Two days later, the ASUSI Executive Cabinet convened to veto ASUCI Legislative Council legislation R50-70 saying that “Flags and decoration adjustment for inclusivity”. We engage in this action to veto under the constitutional authority granted to us under (the) ASUCI Constitution stating:
“Vetoing, as seen fit, any measures adopted by the Legislative Council, provided such an action be exercised only once per measure, and within six (6) days from the date of the measure being passed, after which time, the measure shall become legislation with or without the Executive Cabinet’s approval.”
We fundamentally disagree with the actions taken by ASUCI Legislative Council and their passage of R50-70 as counter to the ideals that allow us to operate as an autonomous student government organization with the freedoms of speech and expression associated with it.
It is these very symbols that represent our constitutional rights that have allowed for our representative creation and our ability to openly debate all ranges of issues and pay tribute to how those liberties were attained.
For the moment, reason among student leaders attending the University of California, Irvine has prevailed.