Posted: December 5, 2018
Category: NATIONAL HEADLINES
This context of a friendly relationship with Mr. Z made the following incident all the more surprising. One night during Autumn 2017, Lozano recounted, Mr. Z was invited to eat dinner at Sigma Chi. While discussing improving the fraternity’s image with the university, Mr. Z offhandedly suggested that Sigma Chi remove the potentially discomforting symbol outside: the American flag flown in front of the house. Mr. Z urged Sigma Chi to consider the image being presented to the rest of campus by flying the flag out front. He furthered that if Sigma Chi wished to break away from stereotypes that plagued the house and to change its perception on campus, its members should contemplate un-hoisting the American flag.
While this remark was just one in a larger discussion on rebranding the house, it stands out. Mr. Z’s recommendation insinuated not only that the flag made others uncomfortable but that its being flown tainted Sigma Chi’s reputation and, presumably, worsened its chance of survival. Lozano understood Mr. Z to imply that the American flag, as a symbol, could be intimidating, aggressive or alienating. Mr. Z’s tone further signaled to Lozano that he found the mere sight of the American flag to be offensive.
The remark was, according to Lozano, out of the blue and incongruent with the candid rapport they had shared with Mr. Z up and until then. Furthermore, they wondered, since when is an American flag flown at an institution in the United States offensive? Lozano later observed that right down the road from Sigma Chi, an American flag is flown outside Stanford’s Post Office. Similarly, he noted, an American flag is flown outside Green Library’s Bing Wing and was once flown outside Memorial Auditorium, which commemorates fallen Stanford soldiers from WWI onward. According to Lozano’s knowledge, Mr. Z raised no objections to the Dominican flag flown by a student from his bedroom window in Sigma Chi or to the Palestinian flag which was hung across the street at Columbae.
In protest of Mr. Z’s suggestion, the house declined to remove the flag, instead choosing to replace it with an even bigger one. Some members, of course, abstained from the discussion about and decision to purchase a bigger flag. The following day, by Lozano’s doing, Sigma Chi upgraded from a three-by-five-foot flag to a four-by-six-foot flag. The former flag was then framed and placed on display inside the house. This decision was, in Lozano’s words, a "silent but visible protest" against the classification of the American flag as a potentially stigmatizing symbol by a member of the Stanford administration.