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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Flag resolution has no pole to fly on

Published: January 25, 2008
Section: Opinions

The debate over the recent rejection of a proposed resolution, which would have promoted the public display of the American flag on campus, reflects the Union Senate’s occasional inability to properly represent the interests of the student body.

The resolution, which was written by Ziv Quad Senator Justin Sulsky ‘09, simply summarizes the events that led up to this debate, without providing any concrete, compelling arguments to persuade the senators. The resolution says, “Whereas in order to increase patriotism and pride in the United States of America, the display of American flags should be encouraged.”

Since when is it the Union’s responsibility to look out for the level of patriotism among all American residents? Instead of taking on duties above and beyond its reach, the Union should focus on how this issue directly affects Brandeis students. This is eerily reminiscent of the Union’s referendum condemning Iran for its nuclear program; that, like this flag resolution was a valid opinion in an inappropriate forum.

And while Sulsky can be commended for recognizing a demand among his constituents and attempting to meet it, he should make sure that their wants and needs are advocated in the strongest way possible. The resolution simplistically ends with the pledge that “the Student Union Senate should encourage the display of American flags by students, faculty, staff, and University office.” It is vague language like this that promotes the image of the Union as an ineffective bureaucracy. Before taking this resolution to the Union Senate, Sulsky should describe what he means by “encourage” and prescribe specific ways in which the Union can do this. It wouldn’t hurt to add why this is a worthy cause for the Union to be debating.

However, it appears that Sulsky is not the only senator confused about the purpose of the Union Senate and its role in representing student interests. The responses of senators who opposed the resolution were equally disheartening.

Charles River Apartments Senator Rachel Graham Kagan ‘09 voted against the resolution because she did not think it was appropriate for the Union to comment on the issue at all. However, this resolution obviously affects a variety of students, as evidenced by the comments of the two students who initially hung a flag in Ziv Quad, and Senator for the Class of 2009 Yuki Hasegawa, who as an international student, commented that “I don’t feel proud [of] the American flag, I am here to get an education….” This is a topic that merits debate, and we hope that in the future the Union limit its discussion to how its decisions will affect Brandeis students on the Brandeis campus, instead of attempting to promote the patriotism of the American nation.