The University of New Mexico forced a student, Bobby Schofield, to remove an American flag from his dorm room window over the weekend, according to Campus Reform, because flying any flag in a public space is not allowed.
“It’s definitely a First Amendment violation for them to have to take down any kind of flag. I think it’s ridiculous,” said UNM student Ryan Talyor told ABC affiliate KOAT.
The Residence Hall Handbook at UNM states that “room decorations are to be in the interior of your room and may not extend into public spaces, including the hallway side of your room door.”
Schofield, after he asked his resident adviser why the policy is in place, was told the policy prevents discriminating against certain dorm room decorations.
“UNM didn’t want to start drawing a line between what you can hang in public spaces and what you can’t,” Schofield said he was told by his RA.
“He told me that if someone were to hang, say, the Confederate flag or a Third Reich flag, they didn’t want to have that showing, and so to make it easier on them, they said no flag.”
“A window is considered ‘public space’,” said Dianne Anderson, UNM director of media relations, told Campus Reform.
Megan Chibanga, UNM residence life manager, called the RA’s explanation incomplete.
“The rationale behind the policy is first and primarily to prevent damage to our rooms, including the doors and windows,” Chibanga said.
“Secondly, the subjectivity of any one person’s perspective about what is or is not offensive when it is displayed within the public spaces of the residence halls could create an environment where students, faculty, and staff are subjected to what they consider offensive materials on a regular basis, instead of an environment which is supportive of the academic mission of the university,” she added.
One student at UNM, Michael Aguilar, claimed that he has rarely seen this policy enforced.
“I lived in the dorms; I had a flag up and nobody ever told me anything,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar continued, saying he regular sees flags on campus.
“I see state of New Mexico flags in windows all the time. If they’re banning American flags, why don’t they ban New Mexico flags, as well?”