Students and faculty members at UC Irvine defended the six student council members who voted to ban the American flag from a building on campus, creating an online petition stating their express support of the underlying reasons behind the short-lived ban.
The vote to remove the flag stemmed from an attempt to prevent “triggering” hurt feelings among illegal immigrants, namely “racism and xenophobia,” according to language in the online petition. The petition received over 1,200 signatures, including 60 from UC Irvine professors and faculty members, and condemned “nationalism” in every form, including “U.S. nationalism.”
The petition begins, “We write to support the six members who offered the resolution to remove national flags from the ASUCI lobby. The university ought to respect their political position and meet its obligation to protect and promote their safety.” Several threats were directed at the six students who voted in favor of the controversial move, which resulted in the cancellation of a student council meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss the initial flag ban. A scheduled Thursday meeting was also canceled as a result.
The student and teacher-led petition concludes by stating, “We admire the courage of the resolution’s supporters amid this environment of political immaturity and threat, and support them unequivocally.” The letter also takes a swipe at the school’s Chancellor Howard Gillman, suggesting that his statement admonishing the six students’ behavior as being “outrageous and indefensible” could contribute to “licensing further harassment.”
Nasrin Rahimieh, an Iranian-born comparative literature professor at UCI, reportedly signed the petition in support of the student council’s reasoning behind the flag ban. She told the Los Angeles Times that she thinks keeping an open mind and urging inquisitiveness among students “has to be respected.” Rahimieh also said, “If to be an American, a true believer of this country, is to wish to kill someone because they took down this flag, that is horrifying to me.”
Professor of African American Studies and Drama at UCI Frank B. Wilderson III, who also signed the petition, told the Times that he believes the student government was capable of governing itself and that the school’s administration threw the students under the bus — a sentiment echoed by those in favor of banning the American flag in the first place.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz