Rally for our flags!
Who has 9 and 1/2 toes and a dispute with RLO? This guy.
About two months ago, my RA, acting on orders from a Director of Residence Life, requested that I remove the flag hanging from my window. As a gay student who felt uncomfortable his freshman year, I and other LGBT identifying students felt publicly visible rainbow flags could do Davidson some good. Taking this into consideration, I did not oblige RLO's request. Besides, their reasons based on safety concerns seemed faulty.
However, after the requests became more persistent, I succumbed to pressure and pulled up my gay pride flag. The next morning while riding my bike to diving practice, I ran into a golf cart blocking a ramp from New Dorm. This entailed a trip to the emergency room, stitches and a dose of antibiotics to treat an infection resulting from the injury. Yet, RLO is on a mission to ensure no student ever falls hanging a flag from a window that can only open 6 inches. Golf-carts blocking poorly lit ramps is secondary.
Frustrated, my flag went back out my window, and as a consequence, I was requested to meet with the aforementioned Director of Residence Life. He explained to me, shockingly, safety was not actually a primary concern for his decision of creating a new policy prohibiting hanging flags. Instead, the true reasoning was too nuanced and subtle to convey through the RA. During our dialogue, the Director of Residence Life explained a bystander may mistaken a flag outside a window representative of the values of all the inhabitants of the dorm, and not just the individual who hangs the flag. However, the less visible option of hanging a flag inside a window was acceptable, as this would not confuse a bystander. Apparently, this distinction is important. He further stated flags outside windows could jeopardize the intended aesthetics and ambiance of the dorm, but fliers around Chambers, chalking across campus, and loud music from Patterson Court are apparently very different things. (I actually enjoy hearing "Wrecking Ball" twelve times on a Friday night from my room, but pretend I don't for the sake of argument).
When I asked about this new policy, I requested to see it in writing. I was surprised to learn it does not exist in any RLO guidelines; nonetheless, it is apparently something I should follow unquestioningly. However, the Director of Residence Life ensures it will next year. Additionally, Davidson has no precedence for prohibiting hanging flags outside of windows, so this new decision seems arbitrary and uninformed.
I inquired where this new rule originated, and the Director of Residence Life stated it was a decision he could make individually. It's his job. He even apparently has the backing of the Dean of Students. The Director of Residence Life felt this was a decision above the input of the student body. What do we know about admissions liabilities? It's not like any of us have ever been on a college tour.
Well, I am here to disagree, and I hope you do, too. Something I believe that is uniquely Davidson is our ability to influence the character and image of our school so strongly as undergrads. Hate 'em or love 'em, Divest Davidson is a force to reckon, Do it in the Dark is more than a sexual innuendo, and we did make national news cutting Chick-fil-A as a staple of our midnight diet.
Also, this is a LGBT issue. Although I am told the new flag policy is not content-specific, I was the only one in the room with the Director of Residence Life, even though there are flags outside of windows elsewhere on campus. Last year, I struggled to find visibility among the gay community, but instead grew complacent with the secret meetings of YANASH. I want a campus where gay students aren't wary of being conspicuous, and flags are a great way to start. I never came out to my roommate freshman year, but I honestly may have if I saw other students were visibly out on campus. I and others are trying to provide what we missed out on, and I hope you can join us as allies by protesting this decision of the Director of Residence Life. Also, it's really important everyone knows what state you're from and what professional sport teams you like.
Look for more information about this issue upon returning from winter break from Max Feinstein.
Max Feinstein '16 is a Biology major from Houston, TX. Contact him at email@example.com
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