News of a vote by the governing student body at the University of California Irvine to ban the American flag from their lobby spread quickly this past week, ultimately making its way to California’s State Capitol in Sacramento.
On Friday, state Senator Janet Nguyen (R-Santa Ana) responded to the student vote to remove the symbol of American patriotism by saying that she and other legislators are considering introducing a state constitutional amendment to prohibit “state-funded universities and college campuses from banning the United States flag,” according to the Associated Press.
Sen. Nguyen is of Vietnamese descent and the region she represents includes “Little Saigon” whose South Vietnamese inhabitants still treasure their flag nearly 40 years after the Vietnam war, which transformed South Vietnam into a communist country.
The vote to remove the American flag — and any other nation’s flag — from the Associated Students’ main lobby was brought forth by Mexican-American student Matthew Guevara on Thursday. Guevara said he believed the American flag should not be displayed there because it “has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism” and that “symbolism has negative and positive aspects that are interpreted differently by individuals.” The student council and passed the legislation known as R50-70 narrowly with a 6-4 vote, with two abstentions.
That same day, ASUCI President and Iranian-American Reza Zomorrodian spoke out against the legislation on social media, based solely on the approach the council was using by removing the flag. He said on Facebook that while he opposes this particular piece of legislation that he “understands the authors intent.”
On Saturday, the move was vetoed and overturned by the Associated Student’s Executive Cabinet by a 4-1 vote in a private meeting, notes the AP. A portion of their statement reads:
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.
Last month at UCLA, the University of California Students Association voted to divest from Israel, America and much of the world.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz