Confederate Flags on College Campuses by Bobby Morrison

As you may already know, a few years ago South Carolina made national news in 2015 when Nicki Haley banned the flying of the confederate flag at the state building due to the horrific acts committed by Dylan Roof. Ever since then there has been debate on whether or not public facilities around the nation should ban the flying of confederate flags. Institutions of higher educating have had this debate since the integration of public schools in 1954. The events that led up to taking down the confederate flag has caused this issue to resurface at universities/colleges all around the nation on whether or not the flag should be taken down because of what it represents (or, in some cases, what it doesn't represent).

Well here it is, the confederate flag. As stated earlier the removal of the confederate flag from the South Carolina state house made national news, however colleges and universities all over the country have been pushed to remove the confederate flag for years. Ever since the integration of higher education public schools in 1954 there has been a push to ban the confederate flag because of the derogatory history that is associated with it. The problem has resurfaced in recent times...

The following images are of colleges that have had recent issues with the display of the confederate flag on their campus. On the long list of universities that have experienced conflict with this issue (237 to be exact USA Today) these are just a few instances. During football games at The University of Mississippi it is common for fans to bring a confederate flag to the game given that the team name is the Ole Miss Rebels (no correlation with the rebels associated with confederate movements in the south) which have led to many African American students speaking out because they find this offensive. The same issues have occurred at the University of Alabama. During campus events, it is common for "Dixie" to be playing while students openly walk around campus with confederate flag shirts or miniature flags to wave around. This has become a normality on campus, however there have been efforts made for the university ban the song "Dixie" during campus events as well as to ban confederate flag clothing from being worn at such events. This is not only a problem that occurs in the south, recently at Rochester University in New York a college student was told to take down a confederate flag poster from his dorm window because it was deemed offensive by university representatives. Matthew Papay (the student who was told to take down the flag) stated that the university "blatantly ignored his rights to display his cultural identity."

An example of the problems that occur with confederate flags on college campuses.

THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY: As leaders we have to approach solving conflicts by listening to both sides of the problem. The same is applicable in this situation; rather you agree with the display of confederate flags on college campuses or not, those who choose to do so are protected by their rights. In the previous slide you may have noticed that not all problems just dealt with a student wanting the flag banned because it was offensive. In Matthew Papay's case he wanted to display his confederate flag to express his cultural identity, but his university denied him of those rights. To him, displaying his confederate flag meant taking pride in his culture and who he chose to identify himself with. Matthew's purpose was not to promote hate to a particular group of people or bring up a brutal past in American history. This is true for many college students, their purpose for the flag may not be a symbol of racism, rather a symbol of who THEY are as a person. On the other side of things, we must think about those are offended by the flag because it reminds them of a harsh past in history. People of all races can take offense to this flag, not just African Americans. For one person the flag my be a symbol of who they are, but to another it may be symbolic of racism and cruel mistreatment. When others see this flag on a campus they may feel disconnected to the university or feel discriminated against. As leaders, we must take in consideration the reasons why before immediately jumping to conclusions.

Thomas Green Clemson statue

HOW CAN THIS IMPACT CLEMSON? As I showed you, the displaying of the confederate flag is currently an issue faced by 237+ colleges and universities around the nation. This could easily become an issue here at Clemson. Clemson has already come under fire numerous of times to change the name of Tillman Hall, stop honoring the Thomas Green House on Legacy Day, ect. Clemson is rooted in tradition and its clear that some of those traditions are offensive to other people due to the past associated with them. Many Clemson students may value the tradition of what the confederate flag means to them, which can possibly add to the turmoil that Clemson has faced in the past few years. Ever since Clemson integrated in 1963 many have pushed for the university to present itself by creating a more inclusive environment and Clemson has been criticized for not doing so. With recent events such as the Sikes Sit-In, displaying the confederate flag on public grounds could lead to serious conflicts within the university.

Created By
Bobby Morrison


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