The college suffered backlash from students feeling ‘betrayed’ by that decision. The motives behind that doing were justified by the college as wanting to have a ‘political neutrality’, which hasn’t been received well either.
Indeed, a college spokesman also claimed that flying their own flag, avoided “the difficulty of the choosing between the plurality of good cause for which a flag could be flown”. On paper, that argument holds up. Why fly the pride flag and not the one of other marginalised communities?
However, as a queer person, I can understand why other LGBTQ+ Caian students would feel upset at this decision. It's not about the flag, but about what it represents. Especially as it is flown to commemorate queer history.
To be contrarian and give the college administration the benefit of the doubt, from what has been said, the flag hasn’t just been removed to put aside the on-campus LGBTQ+ community. It has been replaced for the Caius flag, to represent every single students, no matter their upbringing, philosophy, religion or race.
If this happened on the Newcastle University campus, as an LGBTQ+ student, I would possibly question that decision, try to understand the motives behind. However, it isn’t a ban on queer association on campus or any related activities. The flag itself is a strong symbol and a reminder of a long struggle that is still going in many parts of the world.
Yet, LGBT related activities or history events educating on the fight for freedom in our community are more impactful to spread awareness than just flying a flag. Something already occurring at the Gonville & Caius college, with LGBT+ representatives and officers at the student union, “organising activities and events for the college’s LGBTQ+ community”. The flag is here as a statement, but the college hasn’t announced wanting to ban LGBTQ+ activities or representation on campus, which would not be in their interest at all.
Equally, University itself is a place for education, in which impartiality is important and should be respected. Though, it is also a place where young people learn about each other, and being educated on the question of difference is also essential to live in society.
Just flying the pride flag for the LGBT+ History Month and Pride Month in June, isn’t a bad idea. Ultimately, the college could fly their own flag plus the progressive flag at the same time for celebration.
Will this action have effect on the long term? Probably not. It is essential to remind ourselves that the UK law is on our side, and LGBTQ+ individuals can turn to the law if discriminated or assaulted for being themselves.