College student sparks 1st Amendment fight over Confederate flag

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Administrators at the University of Rochester have backtracked on their demand that a sophomore remove his Confederate flag after he fought back and accused them of violating his First Amendment freedoms.

Matthew Papay, 19, said he hung the flag in his college dorm window to celebrate his heritage and his Southern roots, the Daily Mail reported. He also started a Facebook page to give his side of the story and to solicit feedback.

“I am from North Carolina,” he said in the Daily Mail, “and the school is blatantly ignoring my rights to express the cultural identity I choose to identify with, even though the school prides itself on how ‘culturally diverse’ it is.”

School officials, for their part, said it was a student adviser who initially told him to take it down because it was a fire hazard.

“I understand that your flag is up out of pride and you can feel free to leave it up but on a wall of your room,” the adviser said in an email, The Daily Mail reported. “It should not be in the window because of the discomfort it is causing people and because it does not necessarily represent the heritage of the whole house.”

The school’s dean subsequently stepped in and clarified that Mr. Papay is allowed to hang his flag and that the adviser who had initially told him to take it down was wrong.

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