As One Flag Comes Down, Issue Remains

Although Timothy P. McCormack '92 last week removed from his suite the Confederate flag that has sparked much controversy on campus in recent months, the issue concerning the propriety of displaying such a symbol has not gone away.

McCormack, who first displayed his Confederate flag in February from a window facing the Quad, replaced that flag last Monday with an American flag. McCormack had originally hung the Confederate flag shortly after Briget L. Kerrigan '91 displayed a similar flag from a window in her Kirkland suite. Kerrigan continues to hang her Confederate flag.

Those gestures have prompted sit-ins, marches, and a statement from outgoing President Derek C. Bok asking the flag-hangers to remove their banners. In short, they have sparked a renewed discussion about the limits of free speech on a racially diverse campus, an issue which many say is no less important now that McCormack has removed his Confederate flag.

McCormack says that he still stands by his earlier position that he was acting well within proper boundaries in displaying the Confederate flag. He says he in no way caved in to pressure in removing the flag, adding that his recent move merely reflected his national pride and logistical concerns.

"I'm an American, I only had one window and I wanted an American flag," McCormack says.

Representatives of the Black Students Association (BSA), which organized several of the marches and sit-ins, say they are happy to see the flag removed, although some say they continue to have reservations about the underlying reasons for McCormack's actions.

"I'm kind of disappointed it took so long," says Philip A. Alphonse '93, a BSA member. "I'm glad it's down, but I'm not sure about the motive."

Members of other campus groups who have spoken out on the issue of the Confederate flag say they too are glad McCormack's symbol is down.

"Now that it's down, for whatever reason, we are extremely happy," says Daniel J. Libenson '92, chair of Hillel's coordinating council.