Flagpole: here to stay, but only for specific events

You may have noticed that there’s a new flagpole on Guilford’s campus by Armfield Athletic Center and want to know why.

The flagpole was originally erected in order to ensure that the flag would be properly displayed at the beginning of athletic games. Now, some community members are suggesting the pole be taken down.

The first issue arose when the flagpole was erected. It is rather unclear where the miscommunication happened, but the flagpole was put up without the knowledge or approval of President Jane Fernandes or the rest of the community.

Another issue is that Quakers do not support the use of symbols such as flags and crosses. They believe that human experience, not material objects, is at the core of the faith. Thus, symbols cannot accurately represent the values of the Quaker faith. Instead, one must practice those values in order to honor their Quakerism.

I believe the flagpole should remain, but it is very important that the flag is only displayed when following the tradition of athletic games and should be taken down immediately after games.

Last Wednesday, three threshing sessions, or forums, were held about the flagpole. Many community members respectfully shared varying opinions on the issue.

“Really the concern has not been against the flag,” said Todd Clark, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, who has been put in charge of resolving this issue. “It’s been the use of symbols, and this is one of the most powerful symbols in our country. It’s an important distinction to know that. We are a Quaker institution that is underneath a government — we’re chartered through the state of North Carolina — you know people have said that, ‘We’re not chartered under the Quakers,’ but Quaker beliefs guide us.”

Displaying flags on this campus at any time other than during athletic events is not appropriate, because it contradicts Quaker tradition and excludes those who choose not to identify with the flag along with those who are not from the United States.

“You know, the flag comes out on the field anyway, and if we’re gonna do it let’s display it properly, but then I don’t want us to worship it,” said Frank Massey, coordinator of the campus ministry. “Let’s make sure that we know what the flag represents, that we’re not just pledging our allegiance to this piece of cloth, but we’re honoring the values and trying to uphold the values that are the foundation for this nation.”

Although it is acceptable for the flagpole to remain, an exploration of the miscommunication that occurred around approval is necessary. It is also possible that changes need to be made to approval procedures.

“I believe we need to be addressing this issue through the lens of the consent culture that we try to cultivate on this campus,” said Senate President Molly Anne Marcotte. “By commencing this project without a clear and explicit go-ahead, it concerns me that certain members of the community would feel the entitlement to take an action without the consent of the proper authority.”

Whether or not the flagpole will be taken down remains to be seen, but action will be taken soon.Moving forward, it is necessary to make sure the community holds the necessary discussions surrounding this issue, such as eliminating the possibility of a miscommunication. It is also important to uphold the Quaker values by only flying the flag on Guilford’s campus when deemed appropriate, at athletic games.