University students in Massachusetts who were upset by an image of a Confederate flag sticker on another student’s laptop were offered counseling services at Framingham State University.
The offer came after the university’s “chief diversity and inclusion officer,” Sean Huddleston, described the display of the small Confederate flag sticker as a “bias incident.”
According to Metrowest Daily News, students filed two “bias reports” within the past month as a result of a student displaying the flag in some way. The most recent bias incident – reported on November 19 – was a report of a student having seen a Confederate flag sticker on another student’s laptop.
In an email to students, Huddleston did not declare a ban on displaying the flag, but claimed that it upsets some students.
MRCTV obtained the email in which Huddleston wrote:
A student reported a bias incident today, in which the image of the Confederate flag was displayed on a laptop. Many of you may be aware that last month we received a Bias Incident involving two other students for a similar issue. Although related in nature, the two incidents involve separate parties.
The FSU Bias Protocol and Response Team has been made aware of the incident, and will meet to determine any measures that may be needed to respond to the incident. Our primary goal continues to be to expeditiously address and resolve incidents of bias that impede our progress toward a welcoming and inclusive campus community.
“Many see the Confederate flag as an inflammatory symbol of oppression and constant reminder of a dark period in the history of the United States in which slavery was a legal,” Huddleston continued, while “Others may simply view this flag as a symbol of shared southern heritage and in memory of the Civil War.”
Huddleston said the flag and other symbols “are not condoned by Framingham State University, as they violate the core values of our institution and not considered consistent with our desire to maintain a safe, respectful and welcoming campus community for all.”
He further described “bias incidents” as “situations that may not rise to the level of a criminal act, but still clearly communicate offensive or derogatory behaviors.”
Observing that students on campus in general may have suffered a traumatic reaction from seeing an image of the Confederate flag, Huddleston continued, “We recognize that bias incidents are upsetting for the entire campus community, but especially for the target(s) and witness(es) of these incidents.”
“It is strongly suggested that anyone impacted by a bias incident find someone to speak with,” he wrote.
According to FSU campus newspaper The Gatepost, social-media displayed a mixed reaction to Huddleston’s email:
On the popular anonymous social media app Yik Yak, one student said the Confederate flag controversy was “legitimately embarrassing” and “someone is getting in trouble for such stupid bullshit.”
Another student disagreed and compared the Confederate flag to the swastika. Adding, “That’s the issue. In case you were somehow still confused in 2015.”
One anonymous student posted, “Carry a copy of the constitution tomorrow, see how fast the PC police emails fly.”
One student related the bias incident involving the Confederate flag to the Star Wars films.
“So if I have a Rebel Alliance wallpaper, am I gonna get reported to the Empire?”
Huddleston said the university may hold a campus-wide forum on the history of the Confederate flag, so that students can discuss the reasons why they either defend or reject it.
In September, Framingham Patch reported that FSU – a public university – was once again recognized for its “diversity and inclusion” on campus. It received a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award, which is bestowed on colleges and universities by INSIGHT into Diversity, reportedly the oldest and largest diversity magazine and website in higher education.