On Friday the European Union flag was raised outside of the Armstrong Building to “recognise the contributions of our hundreds of European staff and students and that of the EU to the University and region”. As the UK was originally meant to be leaving the EU on this date, the raising of the flag was widely interpreted as a political move.
In a Tweet announcing the move, Richard Davies, Newcastle University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor stated that the university is “not taking sides”, but that regardless of differing opinions on Brexit the contribution of EU citizens should be acknowledged.
However, many commenters argued that raising the flag on the day Brexit was set to occur suggests that the university is positioning itself in support of remaining in the EU.
A photo of the flag was posted on the university’s Facebook page, receiving over two-thousand reactions. Many commenters expressed how “proud” they were, however, others criticised the decision by claiming that the university should be impartial on political matters and “allow dialogue between both sides”. However, as both universities and the North East economy are predicted to be affected by Brexit, this act of support is unsurprising to many.
The photographs of the flag also incited a reaction from people who voted to Leave the EU, including one that stated it was “remoaning at its peak”, and others arguing that the university should have flown the British flag instead.