Students at the The University of California Davis may no longer be flying the American flag at student senate meetings. The group took a vote on the matter Thursday night and decided flag flying would be optional. To be completely clear, the group hasn’t banned flying the flag. It will now be voluntary, if it is done at all.
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“We don’t have to have this show and demonstration of patriotism everywhere in our society,” student senate member Itmar Waksman told Sacramento’s CBS affiliate.
Waksman was born in Israel, but has recently become a citizen. He is one of the authors of the bill which states: “The concept of the United States of America and patriotism is different for every individual.”
Waksman has one simple goal. He hopes this flag issue will get his fellow students talking about what the flag represents, and “about how polarized our society is, and how divided we are.”
Others on the student senate are not in favor of the bill. Michael Gofman is one. His parents came to America from the Soviet Union, and he knows just how few rights they had there.
“They saw this country as completely different, where they were able to do what they want with their future, and I see a flag as representing all of that—freedom, liberty and opportunity,” he said.
While Waksman’s motive may be conversational, others feel more confrontational. Becca Payne worked to get the bill passed and wants to see it removed. “The flag to a lot of people represents capitalism, colonialism and the genocide of indigenous people, and this is why we don’t want the flag in meetings,” she said.
Perhaps that is one of the great ironies. The flag that Payne sees as a symbol of America’s evils is also the flag that symbolizes the rights she exercises when speaking so freely.
As for the university itself, they’re not weighing in on this. As it is a student government issue, they have no direct influence and are choosing to allow the students to sort out the issue themselves.