Kerwin condemns flag burning on campus

The University president released a statement calling last Wednesday’s protest “troubling”

 Kerwin condemns flag burning on campus

Following the election of Donald Trump to the presidency in November, students gathered for an impromptu protest on the steps of MGC. Some students burned American flags, one of which is pictured here. 

President Kerwin released a statement on Friday to the AU community speaking strongly against the burning of the American flag that took place at a student-led protest outside MGC on Wednesday afternoon in response to Donald Trump’s election as president.

In the memorandum, Kerwin stated that the University does not condone, promote or support burning the flag as part of the protest.

“Yes, the Supreme Court made it quite clear that this specific act is protected expression under the First Amendment,” the statement reads. “But, it is also an act of profound disrespect that left many members of our community outraged, deeply offended, and disappointed. It generated a great amount of negative reaction from a number of quarters, including our alumni and parents.”

Kerwin was off campus last Wednesday due to previously organized fundraising and alumni commitments in New York City, according to Camille Lepre, the Assistant Vice President for Communications and Media.

Kerwin wrote that universities are places for open, safe and understanding discourse and expression.

“American University upholds institutional values of free expression and mutual respect for people representing diverse points of view. If we want others to understand and listen to our perspective, we must allow others to safely express theirs,” read the statement.

Kerwin acknowledged that many members of the AU community are fearful of threats to their identities given the outcome of the election. He wrote that the University has mental health care and spiritual services available for support and assistance for students.

He also encouraged more dialogue and understanding among members of the AU community during this time of national political polarization.

“The lasting effects of the divisive national election, and upcoming transition present multiple opportunities for interaction and exchange, and I hope, to learn from past experiences and conduct ourselves on the highest possible level,” he wrote.

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