SLU students raise flag issue

For the past two years, Saint Louis University students Tom
Lundeen and Nicholas Payne have hung the American flag outside
their apartment, which is against Saint Louis University policy,
because they see it as their Constitutional right. After much
controversy, the University has agreed.

“The decision has been made to exempt the American flag from the
existing policy,” said Jeff Fowler, associate vice president for
University Marketing and Communications. “We are still finalizing
the language as to how it will be worded in the handbook.” He
stressed that the exemption will include only the American flag and
no variation of it.

The current policy states: “Nothing is to be hung from
balcony/patio including, but without limitation, flags, strands of
lights, wind chimes or any other items. Violation may result in
confiscation of such items for the remainder of the academic
year.”

Fowler expected the wording of the policy to be adjusted by next
week.

“This is great–all we wanted from the beginning,” Payne said.
“This is a testament of what happens when the public is in your
favor.”

Lundeen and Payne, who live in the Village Apartments, have hung
the flag off their balcony since the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

It is a matter of “simple patriotism,” Lundeen said. “We feel
it’s one of our rights given to us by the Constitution.”

Soon after the flag first went up, they received a warning from
the Department of Housing and Residence Life telling them to take
the flag down because it violated University policy. However, they
asked if they could leave it up as a sign of patriotism. That was
the last they heard from the University about the flag.

That is, until Oct. 14 of this year, more than two years after
the initial warning by the administration.

The first warning stated that the students must take down the
flag by Wednesday, Oct. 15, Lundeen said. They did take it down for
fall break, but put it back up upon returning to school. This
prompted a second warning, this time saying the flag must be down
by Friday, Oct. 24.

Payne then wrote a letter to his congressman, Steve Chabot
(R-Ohio), chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Constitution.
Chabot took the students’ side, writing a letter to University
President Lawrence Biondi, S.J.

Biondi fired back, referring to University policy and mentioning
the intention to avoid a cluttered appearance on campus in his
letter to Chabot.

“I’ve never looked at the American flag as clutter,” Lundeen
said. “That’s a ridiculous reason.”

That was the last Lundeen and Payne had heard from the
University, until the recent decision to permit the flag.

“The University has been less than communicative,” Payne
said.