- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 17, 2001

Commentary columnist Paul Craig Roberts' accusation that students at Central Michigan University were “ordered” to remove patriotic posters and the U.S. flag from their residence hall doors because they were “offensive” is completely false (“Penalties borne by rush of patriotism,” Nov. 8). It never happened. The university has never ordered or asked students to remove flags or patriotic expressions from their doors.

The university believes strongly in the free-speech rights of all persons, including students living in the residence halls. Our review has made clear that no university staff member required or demanded that residents remove anything from their residence hall doors. Neither has any university staff member removed anything from a student's room door.

Our review did find that residence hall staff requested, but did not require, that vulgar pictures be removed from two doors. The pictures were considered by many to be derogatory and obscene, including an illustration of Lady Liberty with her middle finger extended saying an obscenity. The U.S. flag was never part of this request. The university has no policy that forbids or discourages the display of the U.S. flag or other patriotic expressions.

On a personal note, I value everything that the U.S. flag stands for. Every single day, the university proudly flies the American flag in front of its administration building, and the flag is displayed in most campus buildings. As a U.S. citizen, I treasure the freedoms that are inherently symbolized in the U.S. flag, including the right to free speech. To request its removal from any place on our campus would violate my personal standards and values.

Our administration welcomes the opportunity to talk with anyone who has concerns about freedom of expression at Central Michigan University. The school is a defender both in its words and in its actions of its students' First Amendment rights and will continue to uphold these values.


MICHAEL RAO

President

Central Michigan University

Mount Pleasant, Mich.


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