Students react to Jesus College order to remove ‘all flags’ now that ‘time of commemoration’ is over
Jesus’ LGBT+ Officer has described the order as ‘disrespectful and flippant’
Students at Jesus College have been reacting to a request from their Head Porter to remove “all flags and banners” from windows and walls as February Pride month celebrations came to an end.
In an email sent to students yesterday (01/03), the Head Porter at Jesus College “kindly” asked students if all banners could be removed from college facades. The email gained attention on Twitter, with students voicing their disagreements and concerns.
The Jesus LGBT+ officer has criticised this email as “disrespectful and flippant.”
One student tweeted in response to the email: “you can be gay but only in February xoxo”.
Jack Ward, the LGBT officer for Jesus told the Tab Cambridge: “I support the right of every student to show their pride through displaying their flag, and that extends beyond history month.
“The JCSU president and I are working with college to reformulate the guidance on flag flying in our license agreements. I found College’s communications to be disrespectful and flippant, and I absolutely understand the hurt it has caused.”
They added: “It is also important to me, though, that we do not let flag-flying distract from the most deep-seated problems with College’s approach to supporting LGBTQ+ students, such as the lack of tailored welfare provision.”
When approached for comment, Jesus College told the Tab that “Jesus College offers a wide range of LGBTQ+ welfare support.”
A spokesperson from Jesus College told the Tab: “Jesus College is very supportive of LGBT+ History Month and other LGBT+ events and initiatives throughout the year; the rainbow flag was flown from our main flagpole to show public solidarity.
“This year, as LGBT+ History Month took place during a national lockdown, we temporarily waived the section of a standard room license agreement which prohibits any flags to be flown for safety and maintenance reasons. We hope that students enjoyed being able to show their solidarity during this month.
“Once LGBT+ History month concluded, students were reminded that flags needed to be taken down. The College also has a flag working party, which includes representatives from the JCSU and the MCR, and it has recently met to discuss other ways students can visibly support causes that are important to them throughout the year.”
The college also stressed the welfare support available to students: “Last year, Jesus took the lead among colleges in establishing a dedicated LGBT+ Welfare Tutor. College tutors and student representatives recently collaborated to highlight support and resources for LGBTQ+ students and allies in our new Welfare Bulletin, which is sent to all students every few weeks in term time.
“Earlier this week, our lead Welfare Tutor and one of our three College counsellors worked with our LGBT+ student reps to update our online resources and signposting for LGBTQ+ students. We also promote the excellent LGBTQ+ welfare support available via our student unions, and look forward to engaging in opportunities for learning and collaboration through the SU’s Care+ campaign.”
Another email sent by the MCR President, Luis Alberto Ramirez Garcia, as a follow up to the original email received by Jesus students said that: “It was agreed that these [Pride] flags would be allowed to stay up for the duration of February and that at the end of the month it would be requested for students to bring them inside their rooms.”
The move from Jesus College follows complaints surrounding colleges already sending mixed signals about Pride flags, with colleges such as Christ’s, Peterhouse and Queens only flying them for a brief time, which lead to comments that the colleges were merely “virtue signalling.”
Similarly, earlier this month, Queens’ students were told to remove all Pride flags as the college has “a legal obligation not to engage in political activity and to preserve freedom of expression for all.”