The Johnson State College Student Government Association will be hosting a flag raising ceremony on Thursday, November 17 at 4 pm to celebrate the installation of two new flag poles. The flag poles will be designated for flags that represent social justice movements or groups of individuals who may not be visibly expressed elsewhere on campus.
The two new flagpoles are a real example of the college’s commitment to social awareness. As one of the values of the college is that environmental and social awareness is a fundamental component of a JSC education – one we support through academic offerings, community-based activities and cultural programming, it is appropriate for the SGA to dedicate funds from its projects account to create a space for students to place flags on issues that are important to them individually and as a campus as a whole.
SGA member Brittney Malik has taken the lead on the flagpole project and believes that the new flagpoles will be a positive addition to the campus.
“These flagpoles will give the student body a place to stand up against injustice and tragedies, and will hopefully be a platform for student to share their voice,” said Malik.
Another value written to accompany the college’s mission statement is that as a whole, the JSC community respects diversity in all forms and recognizes that diversity expands the educational experience and strengthens our community. SGA members are dedicated to representing all students on and off campus along with following through on the college’s community values.
“Johnson State prides itself on being an open and accepting campus, but sometimes that can mean we ignore some injustices and hate that are happening. It’s important that we acknowledge the injustices that happen to people and begin to talk about it, ” said Malik.
The first three flags to be displayed on the new poles will be representing the Black Lives Matter movement, the LGBTQ+ community, and veterans who have risked their lives to protect our freedoms. The P.O.W flag will be raised on Veterans Day, which is Friday, November 11th. The other flags will be raised during the ceremony the following Thursday, where representatives from each of the three communities being represented will speak along with President Elaine Collins.
“The first flags represent groups that have been persecuted in very different ways,” said SGA President Shavonna Bent who has worked with Malik on the project. “We believe that one way to begin healing is by talking about the issues and these flagpoles are intended to spark those important conversations on campus.”
The project to install the two flagpoles was passed through the SGA Senate on September 29. The original project cost was estimated at $1000. The cement and new flag poles were accounted in this initial cost, and the flags were to be donated by a staff member.
On October 27, the SGA Senate approved $122 to purchase a new Black Lives Matter flag and funds to buy a rope system that will hold two flags on one flagpole. According to Bent, the new total will cost around $2500. This jump in costs is due to an installation fee for the poles and the purchase of additional flags.
“In the future, we hope that students, staff and faculty will use these flags as a catalyst for conversation, and bring forward more social issues that require more conversation,” said Bent.
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