People on many college campuses are continuing to slam our nation’s flag — and Michigan State University (MSU), a public school in East Lansing funded by taxpayers, seems to be the latest location for this offense.
The Associated Students of MSU’s finance committee scrapped a proposal to install flagpoles with the American and Spartan flags in residential areas of the campus by a vote of 9-2 despite widespread support, as Campus Reform originally reported.
The bill, introduced by MSU state senator Sergei Kelley, would have allowed the installation of five additional flagpoles displaying both the American and Spartan flags, at a cost of $12,000.
Though a survey of MSU students revealed broad support for the idea, some student senators expressed concerns the American flag was not inclusive enough –– suggesting instead the installation of additional flags for international and LGBT students, according to the article.
“I just wanted to say that I would like to see this idea of all the flags, and I wanted to add to that that I think that we should [add] all the queer community flags — there’s about 70 — and I mean, like, even the heterosexual one for all you guys,” a former ASMSU representative, Olivia Brenner, said during a student government meeting, according to an audio recording obtained by Campus Reform.
LifeZette reached out to MSU’s student government for comment, but Dan Iancio, vice president for finance and operations for the Associated Students of MSU, neither confirmed nor denied the claim.
“These were comments made by other representatives and you would have to ask them for their opinion,” Iancio, a junior who is studying finance, told LifeZette by email.
Students who spearheaded the bill also conducted digital surveys to gauge the student body’s perception of American flags prior to introducing the measure, Campus Reform reported.
The poll results yielded favorable returns, with 67.3 percent of respondents saying they have a “positive” or “very positive” perception of the American flag. Nearly 60 percent of poll takers agreed the flag “represents all people in America.”
Similarly, when asked about the value of the U.S. flag, more than 70 percent said the Stars and Stripes are “important” or “very important” to them.
Iancio, meanwhile, noted the existence of second survey, which was not referenced in the Campus Reform article.
In an email to LifeZette, he called the second survey — which was conducted and administered by the Office of Survey Research, a survey department on campus — “objective and impartial,” despite his own claims of personal neutrality on the issue.
“To start, I would like to say that I personally have no opinion on this matter and would like to provide an objective view of what representatives discussed during the meeting. There were two sets of surveys conducted,” he told LifeZette.
The bill also received significant support from conservative groups such as Turning Point USA and the College Republicans.
Iancio said the second survey — the one Kelley did not conduct — is much more credible, since it was administered by “trained statistician professionals,” who “craft questions that are nonleading and nonbias[ed].” It also revealed that more than 55 percent of students are indifferent, or disagree with adding American flags around campus, he noted.
“After review of this data, members discussed that the $12,000 could be used more productively elsewhere and that this was not an effective use of student tax dollars since this was not supported by students as shown in the data,” he said.
Kelley, double majoring in fisheries and wildlife, and political theory and constitutional democracy, is not buying any of it.
In an email exchange with LifeZette, he dismissed Iancio’s argument entirely and called it “biased,” noting the opposing survey combined responses from two survey questions, which yielded the result that 55 percent of students are “indifferent” or “disagree” with adding American flags around campus — as noted above.
“The plurality of this survey administered by ‘trained statistician professionals’ concluded that 44.44 percent of students agree [with placing more flag poles on campus],” Kelley told LifeZette. “This is the largest section of survey responses.”
“Any time myself or another representative brought up arguments in defense of this bill that were logical or backed by data, the room became silent,” Kelley said. “Then abruptly the topic would change to anti-American rhetoric that was unsubstantiated and uneducated, unlike the data I had brought to the table. This happened practically the whole meeting.”
The bill also received significant support from conservative groups such as Turning Point USA and the College Republicans, along with cash donations from on-campus dormitories and the inter-fraternal council, according to Campus Reform.
Still, our precious American flag lost out once again — and that harms all of us, though many fail to realize it.
Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.