Fact Check

UC Irvine Flag Ban Controversy

Rumor: Students at UC Irvine implemented a ban on the U.S. flag.

Published Mar 9, 2015


Claim:   Students at UC Irvine implemented a ban on the American flag.



[Collected via e-mail, March 2015]

This was posted on FaceBook. It stated that Pearson was monitoring
students' social media after a student tweeted about a PARCC test


[Collected via Twitter, March 2015]


Origins:   On 5 March 2015, the student-run group Associated Students at the University of California, Irvine (ASUCI) announced the outcome of a 6-4 vote (with two abstentions) in favor of a resolution banning the display of flags from the lobby of student government offices:

Whereas flags are a symbol of a nation, are used as decorations and have a wide range of cultural significance.

Whereas flags are typically viewed as patriotic symbols of a single nation, are often associated with government and military due to their history and have a wide variety of interpretations.

Whereas the traditional patriotic interpretation of a flag is a result of a nation and/or persons who encourage a nationalistic understanding of the flag.

Whereas traditional understandings and ideologies, as encouraged by the national government, include liberty, democracy, constitution values and are up for interpretation on constituents.

Whereas flags not only serve as symbols of patriotism or weapons for nationalism, but also construct cultural mythologies and narratives that in turn charge nationalistic sentiments.

Whereas flags function specifically for a nation and

Whereas people are assimilated into national ideologies by deployment of this cultural artifact.

Whereas flags construct paradigms of conformity and sets homogenized standards for others to obtain which in this country typically are idolized as freedom, equality, and democracy.

Whereas symbolism is interpreted differently by different groups or persons based on individual unique experiences.

Whereas a common ideological understanding of the United states includes American exceptionalism and superiority.

Whereas the American flag is commonly flown in government public service locations, military related entities, at homes, in foreign lands where the US government has a presence.

Whereas the American flag has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism.

Whereas symbolism has negative and positive aspects that are interpreted differently by individuals.

Whereas displaying a flag does not express only selective aspects of its symbolism but the entire spectrum of its interpretation.

Whereas designing a culturally inclusive space is taken seriously by ASUCI

Whereas designing a culturally inclusive space aims to remove barriers that create undue effort and separation by planning and designing spaces that enable everyone to participate equally and confidently.

Whereas the removal of barriers is the best option at promoting an inclusive space.

Whereas it is a psychological effect for individuals to identify negative aspects of a space rather than positive ones.

Whereas whenever public spaces are produced and managed by narrow interests, they are bound to become exclusive places and

Whereas the planning process must be inclusive in such that designers are advised to forget about the 'average' user or themselves and instead begin the open space designing process with ‘deep knowledge’ of the preferences of the actual communities who are likely to use those spaces

Whereas designers should be careful about using cultural symbols as the symbols will inherently remain open for interpretation.

Whereas once an open space is created, it is important to employ continual evaluation in order to understand changing use patterns and needs over time.

Whereas a high-quality culturally inclusive spaces is essential in any society that embodies a dynamic and multifaceted culture

Whereas freedom of speech is a valued right that ASUCI supports.

Whereas freedom of speech, in a space that aims to be as inclusive as possible can be interpreted as hate speech.

Let it be resolved that ASUCI make every effort to make the Associated Students main lobby space as inclusive as possible.

Let it further be resolved that no flag, of any nation, may be hanged on the walls of the Associate Student main lobby space.

Let it be further be resolved that if a decorative item is in the Associate student lobby space and issues arise, the solution will be to remove the item if there is considerable request to do so.

ASUCI president Reza Zomorrodian confirmed the resolution in a post published to the student government group's official Facebook page (in which he voiced opposition to the resolution):


ASUCI Legislative Council recently passed a piece of legislation regarding the display of the American flag and it's [sic] prohibition of display in ASUCI common space. I stand firmly against this piece of legislation, though I understand the authors intent and supporters intent, I disagree with the solution Council has come to. I speak for myself about my feelings on this piece of legislation however as Chair of the Executive Cabinet we will be having a conversation about this piece of legislation and deciding what course of action the cabinet will take collectively. If you have any questions regarding the legislation and your elected offices stance please contact the respective executive or council member.

News of the controversial vote spread quickly on social media sites, where most who weighed in strongly opposed the decision due to its inclusion of the American flag. One of the six students who voted in favor of removing flags from the lobby spoke to local reporters and explained why he supported the resolution:

The resolution to ban the flag, authored by student Matthew Guevara, said that flags can serve as "weapons for nationalism" and that the American flag had been "flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism."

Guevara, the council representative from the School of Social Ecology and the Advocacy Committee vice-chair, wrote further that the intent was to design "a culturally inclusive space," remove barriers and "allow everyone to participate equally and confidently."

The vote quickly garnered national attention, and many readers were left with the mistaken belief that the resolution applied only to the U.S. flag, while others did not realize the scope of the vote affected only the lobby of student government offices and not the entire UCI campus. (The text of the resolution specifically mentioned the American flag in a few places, but it stated as its operative condition that "no flag, of any nation, may be hanged on the walls of the Associate Student main lobby space." However, it's unclear whether flags from any nations other than the U.S. had been, or were likely to be, displayed in the ASUCI student lobby space, or whether the resolution's only practical effect would have been to cause the removal of American flags.)

On 7 March 2015, the ASUCI's executive board released a statement announcing that the vote to ban flags had been vetoed:

Executive Cabinet Veto of R50-70

We the Executive Cabinet of the Associated Students of the University of California, Irvine convened on March 7th, 2015 to officially veto ASUCI Legislative Council legislation R50-70, "Flags and decoration adjustment for inclusivity". We engage in this action to veto under the constitutional authority granted to us under Article V, Section B, Sub-Section 2 of the ASUCI Constitution stating:

"Vetoing, as seen fit, any measures adopted by the Legislative Council, provided such an action be exercised only once per measure, and within six (6) days from the date of the measure being passed, after which time, the measure shall become legislation with or without the Executive Cabinet's approval."

We fundamentally disagree with the actions taken by ASUCI Legislative Council and their passage of R50-70 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. It is these very symbols that represent our constitutional rights that have allowed for our representative creation and our ability to openly debate all ranges of issues and pay tribute to how those liberties were attained.

As students in an academic institution we encourage all students on campus to participate in open debate about a wide array of issues and to actively engage in academic curiosity, which lies at the backbone of a preeminent academic research institution. It is this freedom to be able to navigate and explore topics on a wide range of issues that we see at risk if we begin to engage in a particular form of regulation of free speech and its expression through symbols in any space associated with our organization.

We as well want to reaffirm our commitment to diversity as a campus in all aspects and ideals associated with it. The concept of inclusion and diversity is a core pillar in the mission of University of California system and we wish to continue to work to have these important discussions of what our campus is doing to make this a priority.


ASUCI Executive Cabinet

Last updated:   9 March 2015


    Zhou, Kelly.   "U.S. Flag Back on Display at UC Irvine ."

    Orange County Register.   7 March 2015.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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