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The Blue & Gray Press | January 23, 2019

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Confederate Flag in Mason Hall concerns students

Confederate Flag in Mason Hall concerns students


Staff Writer

On Thursday, January 25 around 8:30 p.m., a University of Mary Washington student posted a picture of a Confederate flag flying in Mason Hall. Following the event, junior Alex Sakes posted the picture of the Confederate flag in question flying in Mason hall at 8:30 p.m. on the “Overheard at Mary Wash” Facebook page. The page is used a platform for students to post funny things that they have seen or heard around campus. In this case, the posting was used as a platform for discussion.

In Sakes post he wrote that “white supremacy will NOT be tolerated on this campus. I will not allow this. This will not fly, not if I have anything to say about it. Your ‘free speech’ isn’t a pass to perpetrate slavery and racism on this campus.”

Reactions began pouring in on the comments of the post and Sakes also received direct messages over Facebook.

“Until a good portion of this individuals ancestors experience 300 years of slavery and then is constantly oppressed in today’s society then this student, nor anyone else, gets to tell those who are still to this day affected by it what is okay to be offended by and what is not,” said junior Mackenzie Norris.

Sakes deleted the picture shortly after posting it following it with a post about contacting residential assistants about the flag.

“Took the post down and wrote to an RA about it. Taken care of,” Sakes wrote.

Following this post, Sakes started receiving comments from the University of Mary Washington community about the Confederate flag flying in Mason Hall.

“Incredible that this individual feels as though their worthless traitor rag is more important than the safety of prospective students and families of color,” said UMW 2015 alum, Sharon Rose.

Caroline Tabucco, a junior political science major, said that the student to take into consideration the history of the flag.

“I believe that every American citizen has the right to exercise their freedoms, in demonstrations and free speech,” said Trabucco. “That being said, just because an act or display is constitutionally protected doesn’t necessarily make it right especially when, with respect to a flagrant display of idolization of the Confederacy, you consider our nation’s extremely troubled history with racial injustice and discrimination.”

Sophomore economics major James Roland took personal offense to the flag flying in Mason Hall. He deemed it a violation of the University of Mary Washington Code of Conduct.

“Its display by a UMW student is a deep and personal attack on me, the minority community, and the values espoused in the UMW Student Code of Conduct Article 2 Section G,” said Roland.

Sakes met with the Dean of Resident Life, David Flemming, on the following Tuesday to discuss the actions that the university can take in response to the flag.

“Right now the Confederate flag isn’t listed as a hate symbol in the state of Virginia as it is in other states,” Sakes said.

Following the meeting, the school is reviewing the policy and the student government is potentially looking into policy on banners in the windows of residence halls on campus.