Does UC Irvine hate the American flag? Not exactly

The issue of whether to fly the American flag -- and flags from other nations -- in the common lobby area of student government offices at UC Irvine, right, has caused some controversy.
(Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times | Mark Boster, Los Angeles Times)

Orange County is a place known for its respect for the American flag. So the reaction was swift last week when a student group voted to ban Old Glory and other flags in parts of UC Irvine.

So does UCI hate the American flag? Not exactly. Here’s a rundown of what happened.

UPDATE: UCI cancels student meeting on flag ban; ‘viable threats’ cited



A resolution adopted by a vote of 6-4 by the legislative council of the campus’ Associated Students called for removing all flags from the lobby area of student government offices.

The resolution says, in part, “The American flag has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism.”

At first, the obscure resolution met with little attention. But soon, it began to go viral.



By Friday, it was a trending topic on Twitter. Across campus, many students and faculty members stepped forward to denounce the idea.


In the morning, UC Irvine issued a statement saying the student government vote was “misguided” and that the American flag is still flying on campus.

Then, in the afternoon, the Executive Cabinet of the student government – the ASUCI president and four vice presidents -- vetoed the ban on the display of flags.


“We fundamentally disagree with the actions taken by ASUCI Legislative Council and their passage of [the ban] as counter to the ideals that allow us to operate as an autonomous student government organization with the freedoms of speech and expression associated with it,” the group said in a prepared statement.


By Monday, the issue was slowly beginning to calm down on campus. But it was picking up steam in Sacramento.

Republican state legislative leaders on Monday proposed a constitutional amendment that would protect Old Glory from being banished from state-funded colleges and universities.


State Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Santa Ana) was joined by Senate Republican leader Robert Huff of Diamond Bar in proposing that the amendment be placed on the November 2016 state ballot.

“I came to this country as an immigrant searching for freedom and democracy, and I would not be here today if it were not for the American flag,” Nguyen said, adding U.S. military men and women “fighting throughout the world deserve for us to make every effort to ensure that the American flag is proudly displayed at public universities and colleges throughout California.’'

Several Vietnam veterans attended the news conference to support the constitutional amendment, which will be introduced Wednesday. The Irvine incident angered veterans including Ted Adams, president of a Sacramento chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America.



The full student government will take up the issue. Expect lots of protests from American flag fans. And it’s unlikely the veto will be overturned.