Cherwell - Oxford University's Independent Student Newspaper since 1920

Article Info

Website pageviews: 10088

About the Author

Claire Rodwell has published 22 articles

St Anne's refuse to fly LGBTQ flag

Despite unanimous approval from JCR, St Anne's will not fly the rainbow flag in support of LGBT History Month
Claire Rodwell on Thursday 9th February 2012
Photograph: Emma Lowe

St Anne’s will not be flying the Pride Flag this month, despite the proposal to do so obtaining unanimous JCR support.

A well attended student meeting on 29th January mandated the JCR President to take the suggestion to the college’s council. However the St Anne’s authorities argued that they were unable to comply with the JCR’s wishes because of a 'college policy'.

Many St Anne’s students have expressed frustration that their views have been ignored, especially because other colleges have accepted similar proposals. Wadham flew the flag during their annual Queer Week last year, whilst others have pledged to raise the flag for LGBT History Month this year.

A similar motion was approved by Mansfield’s JCR on Monday and LGBTQ rep Kat Humphries has already ordered a flag, confident that the college porters will put it up over college.

Humphries commented, “The flag is an important symbol for the LGBTQ community, especially during February which is LGBTQ history month. It shows that Oxford colleges are progressive and open-minded, which is why I was quite shocked to hear that St Anne’s college authorities had vetoed the idea.”

One first year St Anne’s student told Cherwell, “It’s appalling that although the JCR voted unanimously for a cause we all feel strongly about our voices are so easily hushed.” English student Viccy Ibbett added, “For a college that bases its reputation on being modern and progressive I think it is outrageous that they should refuse to fly the rainbow flag because of a bureaucratic quibble.”

Andrew Hall similarly told Cherwell, “I don’t find any satisfactory reason why any college wouldn’t fly this flag. Wadham does it and they don’t have problems. The Pride Flag is a reassuring symbol of acceptance for a community than needs it more than most.”

St Anne’s Principal Tim Gardam told Cherwell, “The College has a policy that, from the flagstaff, only the Union Flag or the College flag should be flown. There have in the past been other requests for other flags to be flown, and, in order to ensure consistency this has been a long standing College decision.”

He did however add, “As the College made clear to the JCR representatives, it is fully supportive of the values and ideals of Gay Pride, as its history demonstrates.”

Sam Weinberg, LGBTQ rep at St Anne’s accepted this, stating, “You don’t need to put up a rainbow flag to support LGBTQ rights. St Anne’s is supportive where it really counts and I’m glad for that.”

However OUSU LGBTQ officer Jess Pumphrey commented, “I think all colleges should participate as it is a simple gesture which shows that a college is taking these issues seriously, and is willing to celebrate LGBTQ history.”

Michael Brooks, who organised the raising of the rainbow flag at Wadham last year, added, “The LGBTQ community is still subject to numerous forms of discrimination, injustice and persecution. If many colleges were to raise the rainbow flag, it would show that Oxford does not stand for intolerance and encourages the promotion of LGBTQ rights.”