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Confederate Flag Causes Debate

Kirkland Residents Question Display

By Benjamin O. Davis

A group of Kirkland House residents have organized an effort this week to convince a fellow student to remove a Confederate flag flying from her window.

Kirkland House residents said yesterday that Bridget L. Kerrigan '91 began displaying the flag last Monday. Kerrigan also sparked a controversy in the fall of 1989 when she hung a Confederate flag outside her Peabody Terrace apartment.

"People will tell you that the flag means a lot of different things," said Kirkland resident Nigil W. Jones '91. "It stands for white supremacy and it stands for slavery. It is a symbol of the white South."

Kerrigan did not return repeated phone calls placed to her room yesterday.

Although residents said the visibility of the flag from the street angered them, they said they would not question Kerrigan's right to display it privately.

"If it were inside her room, it would be different," said Janine M. Gilbert '93. "But it's not. It's on my house, and I do not want it representing me."

Kirkland House resident Ather C. Williams '92 met with Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III yesterday to discuss the issue. Williams said Epps told him that the College has "no policy for political statements" that are protected under the First Amendment.

"It came down to an issue of free speech," Williams said. "Harvard has no official policy on political statements except in the case when they are deemed to represent Harvard."

Students met with Kerrigan last night in an effort to convince her to remove the flag voluntarily.

"What we are trying to do is create a dialogue whereby she can understand what our feelings are about it to convince her that she is in a community, a multicultural community, that she could be more considerate," Jones said before the meeting.

"We decided to take the approach of talking to her," Williams said. "We want to get her to take it down, not because she was forced to, but because she understood."

At press time, students were still meeting on the issue.

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