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CSU fraternity responds to complaints about confederate flag in window

Phi Kappa Tau‘s Colorado State University chapter received complaints about a confederate flag hanging in a window of its house — fraternity members claim the flag was not a confederate flag, but a South Carolina flag that displayed similar symbols.

The flag, as seen from outside the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house.
The flag, as seen from outside the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house.

“The Division of Student Affairs notified the fraternity that it had received complaints about the appearance of the flag, and worked with both local members and the national organization to ensure there was a realization that the flag did offend members of the community,” according to a University statement. “The flag was taken down in part as a result of that notification.”

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The flag is no longer visible from the outside of the house.

According to a fraternity statement, students often display state flags “as a reminder of their homes or special individuals in their lives.”

“Recently, one of our brothers displayed in his window a single flag he had received as a gift from his graduating best friend who hailed from South Carolina. The flag, in a simultaneous acknowledgment of history and embrace of modernity, combines both the current South Carolina ‘Palmetto State’ flag and a historic ‘stars and bars’ flag,” the statement said. “Despite the fact that the flag did not represent a breach of any CSU policy, Colorado law or Fort Collins ordinance, the members chose to avoid further controversy and promptly removed the flag — which had been hung without even a trace of ill will — for good.”

Irene Vernon, chair of the ethnic studies department, sent an e-mail to all CSU ethnic studies majors and minors with a photo of the flag attached, denouncing the “use of the confederate flag in the window of their house.”

Vernon said that regardless of whether it was an official confederate flag or not, the action was still offensive.

“I found that his decision to only display the confederate portion of the flag was intentional and meant to offend,” Vernon said in an e-mail to the Collegian.

In March, Phi Kappa Tau received backlash after reestablishing the fraternity at the University and attempting to rent a house in a residential area, at 201 E. Elizabeth St.

Neighbors in the area protested the fraternity moving in, and fraternity members said they were frustrated by what they perceived to be a reaction based on stereotypes.

In a campus-wide e-mail following the release of a University of Oklahoma fraternity video featuring members chanting racist terminology, President Tony Frank said that in situations of racism, “as individuals, the most important thing we each can do – and this is as simple as it is obvious – is not to be racist. But I would also suggest that we – as members of a learning community – have a particular obligation to stand up and push back against such behavior.

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In the Phi Kappa Tau statement, the members asserted the flag’s importance as a part of history.

“Like the stars and bars that inspired this flag, we consider this affair to be history — but history that nonetheless merits an accurate recording.”

The Collegian news desk staff can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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Comments (17)

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  • S

    SC CsdSep 10, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    Really do not understand why people are not compassionate to African Americans considering the history of the confederate flag. i mean look at this post, people are really mean. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=499241650242318&id=400898023410015&comment_id=501759136657236&notif_t=share_comment

    Reply
  • M

    martiSep 10, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    If it was my window it would still be there

    Reply
  • I

    Iron FistSep 10, 2015 at 9:24 am

    The poor little special snowflakes can’t see a Confederate Flag, because they are special. When did America become so weak? Things offend me, too, but I don’t whine about it, and demand that people conform to my wishes. What makes these little special snowflakes so much goddamned better than me, that they can demand anything of their fellow citizens other than the right to be left alone? My neighbor is a Liberal, and if she decides to put a Rainbow Gay Flag in her yard, I’ll be offended, but guess what? It’s her damned yard. She can fly that flag if she wants to, and I don’t have a right to do more than inform her that she offends me, and let it go at that. Personally, I wouldn’t even do that. Why bother? I’m not likely to change her mind, and she certainly isn’t going to change mine. We can peacefully co-exist without me telling her what to do. I just ask the same courtesy from her.

    Reply
    • C

      Colostate.LSC.AdminSep 11, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      Iron Fist, I understand where you are coming from. The reason though, that the Confederate flag is different than other instances (like the “Rainboy Gay Flag”) is because the Confederate flag represents groups and movements that perform hate crimes. The rainbow flag may offend people, but because it does not generate hate towards other groups and instead, simply supports the LGBTQ community, it is protected by the Constitution. You see the fundamental difference between the flags is that one represents a group and the other puts down a group. Even if your group offends other people, as long as it simply supports your group, it is protected. But the Confederate flag is not only disrespectful, it targets hate on a race of people. Having a black person see the Confederate flag that stood for enslaving their people is the equivalent of a German-American flying a Nazi flag next door to his WWII veteran neighbor. The Nazi flag represents a known hate/terror group and enemy of the state, therefore just like the Confederate flag (which represents an enemy of the state, in fact a rebel/treasonous group) it would be offensive. As an American living under the Constitution, you should understand the things that we as a nation fought for. We went to war with the Confederates just like we did the Nazis. The homosexual community has never declared war on the USA, in fact they have been persecuted unjustly by the public(defined by the Supreme Court several times, which is why they have been granted more civil rights federally like the right to marry). I urge you, as a fellow American and citizen of the world, to better understand the dynamics of this issue and empathize with the individuals victimized by this flag.

      Reply
  • D

    David MccoySep 10, 2015 at 9:14 am

    This has gone tooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo far! If i was told to take my flag down I would say sue me first! Then I would sue Back! Bigots go home!

    Reply
  • D

    daveSep 10, 2015 at 9:11 am

    that flag could jump down and hurt someone.

    Reply
  • C

    CSUGreekSep 9, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    It’s Phi Kappa Tau… Tao isn’t a Greek letter.

    Reply