After a student filed a “bias report” accusing a student with a Confederate flag sticker on his laptop of racism, Framingham State University officials offered offended students counseling.
“We recognize that bias incidents are upsetting for the entire campus community, but especially for the target(s) and witness(es) of these incidents,” wrote Sean Huddleston, the Massachusetts-based school’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, in a campus-wide email published in part by FSU campus newspaper The Gatepost. “It is strongly suggested that anyone impacted by a bias incident find someone to speak with.”
In his email, Huddleston assured students “symbols such as these are not condoned by Framingham State University” but that the school wouldn’t ban the flag, as it is protected by First Amendment free speech rights.
“We absolutely believe everyone is due and should be able to exercise their constitutional rights,” Huddleston said in the email. “We want to foster a community and an environment where everyone feels safe and welcome. If we have a student or faculty or staff that feels unsafe based on something that was said or they witnessed, we have an obligation to inform the campus that has occurred.”
Huddleston concluded by confirming “a productive discussion” between the complainant and the student who owned the laptop “was achieved” and that the Bias Protocol & Response Team “will meet to determine any measures that may be needed to respond to this incident,” reports The Gatepost.
Since September, students have filed four similar bias reports at the university, reports Metro West Daily News, two others being “racially insensitive” Facebook posts.
Metro West Daily News defines “bias reports” as complaints to the administration about something a student witnessed or experienced that made them feel discriminated against or otherwise uncomfortable.
According to The Gatepost, FSU students had mixed responses to Huddleston’s email and the bias report overall based on posts to the anonymous social media app Yik Yak, including many posts opposed to the situation:
“Carry a copy of the constitution tomorrow, see how fast the PC police emails fly.”
“I’m so proud of FSU for making national news over students being scared of a picture of a flag. Oh wait, no I’m not.”
“So if I have a Rebel Alliance wallpaper, am I gonna get reported to the Empire?”
And some in favor of the measure, including one individual who compared the Confederate flag to the swastika, saying “that’s the issue. In case you were somehow still confused in 2015.”