By Matt Morrison
When a student government committee at UC Irvine voted in March to ban flags of all nationalities — including the United States — from a common area on campus, the news quickly went viral and condemnation in the court of public opinion was swift.
Mostly outrage descended from citizen groups and political pundits from across the country, making UCI a focal point of debate on patriotism and free speech. The action voted on by a subcommittee of six student government leaders was not unanimous and was quickly vetoed by the student government executive council.
Nearly three months later, the issue is still echoing throughout the state and local governments with a proposed California constitutional amendment to prohibit banning the American flag on state-funded college campuses. Irvine City Council members voted Tuesday to support the effort being considered by legislators.
State Sen. Janet Nguyen, a Republican and UCI graduate whose 34th District covers North Orange County, introduced Senate Constitutional Amendment shortly after the controversy erupted in March. The amendment proposes “the display of the flag of the United State of America shall not be prohibited on University of California, California State University, or California Community College campuses.”
The amendment is co-authored by state Sens. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) and Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar). In rallying support for the proposal, Nguyen sent a letter to Irvine city leaders requesting a vote of approval.
“To ban hanging the American flag, it was truly shameful,” said Mayor Steven Choi in raising the issue during the May 26 City Council meeting. “The flag is representing our country’s liberty, freedom, diversity and also unity. It’s a very important principle we’re dealing with.”