IRVINE (CBSLA.com) — At UC Irvine, the Star Spangled Banner will yet wave.
The executive branch of UC Irvine’s student government vetoed a ban Saturday on national flags in the university’s student government offices.
The veto comes on the heels of Thursday’s decision by six undergraduate students — on the Associated Students Legislative Council — to ban every country’s flag from its offices, including the U.S. flag. Four of the 17 students on the legislative body voted against the ban and two abstained.
Today’s 4-1 vote was conducted by the Executive Cabinet of the Associated Students of UCI, university spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon said.
“We fundamentally disagree with the actions taken by (the) Legislative Council and their passage of (the ban) 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,” according to a statement issued by the Executive Council after the veto vote. “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.”
The cabinet is led by Student Body President Reza Zomorrodian — who had earlier issued a statement against the ban — and includes four vice presidents.
“This legislation is not endorsed or supported in any way by the campus leadership,” Zomorrodian said in his statement.
The author of the legislation, Matthew Guevara, and the student who seconded it, Khaalidah Sidney, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The banning proposal listed numerous reasons for excising the flags, including the idea the banners promote “nationalistic sentiments,” and characterized them as “cultural artifacts.”
The bill added, “Whereas flags construct paradigms of conformity and sets homogenized standards for others to obtain, which in this country typically are idolized as freedom, equality, and democracy.”
While the students cited “American exceptionalism and superiority,” they said that the country’s flag “has [a;so] been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism.”
The aim of the legislation was to foster a “culturally inclusive space” in the student government offices.
The university’s administration issued a statement prior to today’s vote calling the decision to ban flags “misguided” and urged an appeal.
“The views of a handful of students passing a resolution do not represent the opinions of the nearly 30,000 students on this campus, and have no influence on the policies and practices of the university,” the statement read.
It went on to express an appreciation for “the value of intellectual inquiry and the free and rigorous exchange of ideas,” calling them “bedrock values of institutions of higher learning.”
“And yet, we are constantly reminded that those values we cherish are in part, guaranteed by the sacrifices made and the struggles waged to secure the freedom and democracy that the flag symbolizes. UCI never takes that for granted.”
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