March 10, 2015
Dear UCI Parents:
A few days ago, on a campus of more than 30,000 students, six student legislative council members acting in their official capacity expressed the view that no flags — not the American flag, and not the flag of any other nation — should be displayed in a very small interior lobby area of the offices of student government.
It was outrageous and indefensible that they would decide that displaying the American flag anywhere on this great campus was inappropriate, even though their opinion had no impact of official campus policy or practice. Not surprisingly, UCI students, including the elected student body president, immediately began to express their disappointment and outrage at the actions of six of their peers, calling the decision “horrible” and “an attack on American values.”
As a formal expression of the true views of the UCI community, the Executive Cabinet of our student government has now vetoed this resolution, stating that they “fundamentally disagree with the actions taken by the six ASUCI Legislative Council members” on this issue.
Those news organizations that sought a truthful account of the issue (and not simply a sensational headline implying that our campus banned and does not support the flag), and that interviewed UCI students, found one student after another saying that the views of these six did not represent the students at UCI. The UCI administration has been equally clear and vocal about the actions of these few students and the importance of the flag.
The University of California, Irvine holds the principles of intellectual inquiry and the free and rigorous exchange of ideas as bedrock values of institutions of higher education. And yet, UCI is keenly aware that those values we cherish are, in part, guaranteed by the sacrifices made and the struggles waged to secure the freedom and democracy that the American flag symbolizes.
I invite you to recognize, as we do, that UCI is an institution operating in and created under the world’s greatest democracy. In support of and service to this democracy, we feel especially honored and privileged to facilitate the academic, research, service, and co-curricular learning elements of our mission under the spirit of the American flag. Looking outside my window, and all across this campus, I can see our flag blowing proudly in the breeze and I take comfort in knowing that it symbolizes the freedoms we as a campus and I as an American enjoy and benefit from every day. Long may it wave!
Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs
University of California, Irvine
405 Aldrich Hall
Irvine, California. 92697