Confederate flag displayed on student laptop prompts latest bias incident report

Diversity & Inclusion Officer Sean Huddleston (above) alerted students to a Confederate flag controversy on campus in a Nov. 19 email. (Photo by Brad Leuchte)

A bias incident report has been filed which alleges a student displayed the Confederate flag on a laptop, according to a Nov. 19 email sent out by Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Sean Huddleston.

In his email, Huddleston said he was “informed that a productive discussion” between the complainant and the student who owned the laptop “was achieved.” He added the Bias Protocol & Response team “will meet to determine any measures that may be needed to respond to this incident.”

The incident was filed on Nov. 19 and, according to Huddleston, is unrelated to a bias incident report filed last month “for a similar issue” involving two students.

While some view the Confederate flag as a “symbol of shared southern heritage and in memory of the Civil War,” Huddleston said, many see the flag as an “inflammatory symbol of oppression and a constant reminder of a dark period in the history of the United States in which slavery was a legal, accepted and desired practice.”

Symbols such as the Confederate flag, Huddleston said, are “not condoned by Framingham State University, as they violate the core values of our institution.”

He added the Confederate flag is not “considered consistent” with the University’s “desire to maintain a safe, respectful and welcoming campus community for all.”

Huddleston said the University understands bias incidents are “upsetting for the entire campus community,” but in particular, those who are targeted and who witness the incident.

“It is strongly suggested that anyone impacted by a bias incident find someone to speak with,” Huddleston said. He added the University provides many confidential and non-confidential resources to help those who are upset over a bias incident.

Last Thursday’s bias incident is one of many to be reported in the last several months at Framingham State University.

In October, two reports were filed by a student who deemed the Facebook posts made by an FSU student – who was at the time a dorm hall president – as racially insensitive. The incident led to the dorm hall president resigning from her position.

On April 2, 2015, a swastika was scratched into the driver’s side door of an FSU commuter student’s car. FSU’s University Police said at the time they would be investigating the act of vandalism as “a Hate Crime.”

FSU student responses to Huddleston’s Nov. 19 email were mixed on social media.

On the popular anonymous social media app Yik Yak, one student said the Confederate flag controversy was “legitimately embarrassing” and “someone is getting in trouble for such stupid bullshit.”

Another student disagreed and compared the Confederate flag to the swastika. Adding, “That’s the issue. In case you were somehow still confused in 2015.”

One anonymous student posted, “Carry a copy of the constitution tomorrow, see how fast the PC police emails fly.”

One student related the bias incident involving the Confederate flag to the Star Wars films.

“So if I have a Rebel Alliance wallpaper, am I gonna get reported to the Empire?”

Huddleston’s email concerning the latest bias incident report to be filed comes on the heels of last Tuesday’s contentious Administrative Forum event, at which many students expressed their concerns that administrators have responded inadequately to what they believe have been racist incidents.

(Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on our Tumblr site on Nov 21, 2015)

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