This week, the University of Dayton campus community saw flurries of emails and Facebook posts flying around online due to a display of American flag that is hanging on the second floor of Fitz Hall. The flag has been textured and painted to look as if the bottom half of the flag was burned. The flag was not set on fire.
Photos and messages referencing the outcome of the 2016 election hang next to the flag. One message states, “The election of Trump has produced outcry due to the xenophobic, racist, and homophobic implication of Trump himself as a leader, and also of Pence and the proposed members of the administration.”
This blog post will not tell you that burning flags is okay. It will not tell you that burning flags is a disgrace to members of the military. It will not reference First Amendment rights or anything about democracy. Most importantly, this blog post will not tell you how to feel.
What we should think about is the hatred and animosity that this flag has incited among members of the UD community towards other members. Ironically, the visceral reactions are occurring during Community Means Everyone Week, which is meant for the campus community to engage in discussion and reflection about living in authentic community where the dignity of each person is respected and celebrated.
Yet, is our campus community as inclusive as we claim we are? Is the dignity of each person truly respected and celebrated?
Students are hiding behind their computer screens calling each other ‘Freedom-haters’ or ‘insensitive’ and ‘racist.’ Students are spewing hatred at one another on social media platforms. Students have become internet trolls to members of their own community.
Let’s take a step back: If someone does not agree with your personal views, does that mean you should insult and demean them? Instead of firing generalizations and insults at those who you disagree with over the internet, let’s all try to channel our energy around this display and the events that have taken place since the election as a time to have respectful, open dialogue.
Talk face-to-face rather than from behind computer screens, cell phones, tablets, or however you engage online. Go outside of your comfort zone and have a conversation with someone whose views you do not agree with.Let’s talk, not troll.
**The University of Dayton Women’s Center, located on the 2nd floor of Alumni Hall, prides itself on being a safer space for all students. If you feel like you need to vent, reflect, or express your emotions, please stop by.