Students accuse Selwyn College, Cambridge of selectively targeting Pride flag with flag policy

Selwyn Tweeted a photo showing England flags being displayed from students’ rooms while previously having told students to remove Pride flags from their windows

Selwyn came under fire on Sunday (13/06) after it Tweeted a photo of England flags displayed from student rooms despite having previously told students that they were not allowed to display Pride flags.

In response to the Tweet, some students at Selwyn have criticised the College for the “selective enforcement” of its flag policy, seemingly targeted at students who want to display Pride flags.

Marking the football match between England and Croatia on Sunday, Selwyn Tweeted a photo of students displaying England flags which it it captioned “It’s coming home,” a nod to the refrain of the popular football song “Three Lions” by Baddiel, Skinner, and the Lightning Seeds. Some students were taken aback by this endorsement of displaying flags from student rooms given that those who had previously wanted to display Pride flags had not been allowed to do so.

Selwyn students who displayed Pride flags have previously received emails from the College’s porters asking them to take them down because of a blanket ban on flags. In May, a post on Queerbridge  on Facebook compared Selwyn’s attitude to Pride flags to that of Jesus College, which threatened to evict students who displayed posters, flags, or banners in April. The post read: “Selwyn have also repeatedly told people to take [Pride flags] down/sent college-wide emails making it clear they’re not allowed.”

Selwyn’s Student Accommodation Handbook reads, “Posters, notices and flags etc. are not to be displayed in room windows, on the doors of College rooms or elsewhere in College, except on appropriate noticeboards and screens.”

Following the Tweet, some Selwyn students decided to display Pride flags from their windows. A post on Selfessions, a Facebook page for Selwyn students , called on students to “fly [their] flags” and there were reportedly up to eight Pride flags being displayed within a few hours. In response, the College asked all students to take down all flags by the end of the day.

Selwyn’s JCR sent an email to the College which outlined students’ concerns over the selective targeting of students who wished to fly the Pride flag. They asked to discuss the matter, and were told that no meeting was necessary as the Licensing Agreement had already been agreed.

In an email to students at the College, Roger Mosey, the Master of Selwyn, wrote with regards to the upcoming meeting, “I think it is highly likely that we will reaffirm that students should not display flags from windows, and I agree that it is better if we have a consistent policy and stick to the request that individual flags not be flown.”

Following the College’s endorsement of the flying of England flags, some students decided to display Pride flags from their windows. (Image: Matilda Head)

Ted Kehoe, the LGBTQ+ Officer for Selwyn’s JCR, told The Tab, “In the past, students have been told to take down Pride flags and similar notices in their windows. Having discussed this with the Head Porter, I had been assured that this was a blanket policy, and had never been intentionally targeted at LGBTQ+ students.

“That’s why many students were surprised to see an endorsement of the breaking of this rule on the College’s social media. People showing their support for England isn’t the issue – in fact, it’s lovely to see the College community come together in support of the team. The issue lies with selective enforcement of policies – either enforce them for everyone or don’t enforce them at all.”

A Selwyn student said, “I think Selwyn students are beginning to get quite fed up with the hypocrisy of many College rules/policies.”

A spokesperson for Selwyn told The Tab, “Some students flew England flags, and others later flew Pride flags on Sunday. We took the view that, after a difficult year for everyone, we wouldn’t ask for any of the flags – England or Pride – to be taken down until the end of the day.

“However, we reaffirmed to students on Sunday afternoon that the policy of no posters, notices or flags from college rooms applies and will continue to be applied fairly to all in future.”

Related articles recommended by this writer:

Cover image: Matilda Head