Students question American flags in classrooms

Haley Candelario

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Small American flags have been added to some classrooms around campus over spring break. (Michael Berg | Collegian)

Some students at Colorado State University have noticed a new detail in their classrooms, a small American flag hanging in a black frame at the front of the room.

Julia Andrade, a junior majoring in biomedical sciences, said she has not noticed the American flags in any of her classrooms.

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“All of my classes are in the science buildings, and I haven’t noticed any flags in there,” Andrade said. “If they just showed up recently, that’s kind of strange, especially with the political turmoil that has been going on. Why now?”

Although Andrade has not noticed the flags, she does not see an issue with them being in classrooms.

“It’s not a huge deal. There’s flags all over campus,” Andrade said. “There’s a huge flag pole in the middle of campus. I don’t see (anything) wrong with that. We’ve grown up with flags in our classrooms all our lives, like in elementary school.”

Mariana Dart, a sophomore transfer student studying biology, noticed the flags during her second semester in her calculus class at the Engineering building.

“At first … I thought (the professor) had put the American flag in, but then I noticed it on the wall in another classroom,” Dart said. “I certainly have (noticed the flags) since then, so I realize they’re up.”

Dart said she did not have a strong reaction to the flags initially, but her opinions have changed in the current political climate.

“I think sometimes American flags, especially recently, are kind of like political statements in a way,” Dart said. “I was sort of like, ‘Oh, okay.’ Taken aback might be a strong word, but I wondered who had put them there and why.”

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Small American flags have been added to some classrooms around campus over spring break. (Michael Berg | Collegian)

Tom Satterly, the associate vice president for Facilities Management, wrote in an email to the Collegian that the flags are required to be in classrooms due to the state statute, C.R.S 27-91-10, that was passed in 1996.

Satterly wrote, with the addition of new buildings, Facilities Management checked other buildings that needed replacements for missing flags.

“Occasionally, flags go missing from classrooms,” Satterly wrote. “With new classrooms coming soon that will need flags, Facilities Management checked all classrooms for flags (during the fall semester) to note any additional replacement flags that were needed.”

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While the reason flags go missing is unknown, Satterly mentioned some flags were removed from classrooms due to recent remodeling and classroom maintenance, and then reinstalled.

According to Satterly, 83 flags were installed in general assignment classrooms after a recent audit by Facilities Management, and about 20 flags are on hold to be installed over the summer in new building classrooms.

“When that audit was completed, new flags and frames were purchased over winter break,” Satterly wrote. “CSU crews worked to install new flags in classrooms during the spring semester, with a primary emphasis on installing flags during spring break when rooms were more accessible without classes in session.”

None of the flags were donated but were purchased by Lynn Johnson, the Vice President for University Operations, for $8,675.40 from her VPUO general fund account. The cost includes installations and materials.

Dart is unsure if the University is making a political statement by hanging the flags, but believes a statement is implied.

“I think we go to a school that is kind of in an area where it’s geographically just a popular sentiment to be patriotic,” Dart said. “I don’t know if the purpose of putting the flags (up) was political, but I think that they do kind of make a political statement regardless if that was the intention.”

Dart believes the appearance of the flags is strange since many of her professors and classmates are not from the United States and may not express a similar patriotic sentiment.

“It’s kind of interesting to be in a room full of these people who are really contributing a lot to CSU, and do not identify as from the United States, but we have these American flags up in all the rooms,” Dart said. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily someone’s intention to subordinate groups of people, but I do think it kind of has that effect … because it’s kind of pushing this patriotic message at people who might not necessarily feel that way and who aren’t even from the United States in some cases.”

Collegian reporter Haley Candelario can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @H_Candelario98.