Students Discuss Flag Issues at UA Forum
Students discussed the flag-flying controversy at a forum hosted by the Undergraduate Association last night, but no representatives from the administration were in attendance.
Jonathan A. Goler G has had an Israeli flag hanging outside his window since this summer. He has been asked to take it down repeatedly, but he has refused, saying he is only being asked to take the flag down because a fellow resident of the Sidney-Pacific Graduate Residence complained about its political implications.
MIT has said repeatedly that the flag violates MIT rules and is a fire and safety hazard.
After the Housing Office mentioned the possibility of an eviction notice, Goler proceeded to hang his flag inside his ninth-floor window, illuminating it with a backlight during the night.
Goler hints at legal action
At the meeting, Goler hinted that he might be prepared to take legal action, mentioning ongoing discussions with the American Civil Liberties Union and past First Amendment Rights cases.
Reporting on the opinions of their constituents, UA senators who took part in last night’s discussion mostly agreed that Goler should be allowed to hang a flag out of his window on the basis of freedom of speech.
However, without feedback from MIT administration, the final outcome and resulting campus-wide implications of the issue are still in the air.
Students were told that a representative of the Housing Office would be in attendance, but none showed up.
Many undergrads support Goler
“The general sentiment was that the institution handled the issue inappropriately,” said Hannah K. Choe ’06, representing MacGregor House. “We’re leaving it up to future negotiations to decide whether MIT should explicitly allow people to hang flags outside of windows.”
“I think we’re still kind of in the early stages here,” said UA President Pius A. Uzamere II ’04. “There are various perspectives from all over campus.”
He said that some students believed that MIT was being selective in taking down Goler’s flag, while others believe that MIT was merely following the rule.
Though Goler is a graduate student, he came to the UA seeking their formal support.
The UA Senate does not have any authority to permit Goler to display his flag, but it can make recommendations to the administration on behalf of the undergraduates.
“I hope that MIT comes to its senses and decides to reverse [its] decision,” Goler said.