Taxpayer-funded officials at a little-known public university in small-town Pennsylvania have decided to rescind a short-lived ban on using swastikas and Confederate flags to decorate residence hall rooms and school-owned apartments.
The locale for the now-retracted, flatly unconstitutional prohibition is Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Inside Higher Ed reports.
The justification for outlawing swastikas and Confederate flags from all student living quarters had been that school officials believed someone at the public school might be offended.
“All decorations in common areas in the residence hall and apartments must take into consideration that obscene, distasteful displays which are demeaning to an individual’s or group’s race, ethnic, religious background and/or gender or ability will not be permitted and will be removed immediately, at the discretion of Housing and Residential Services. The Confederate flag and swastika are NOT permitted in any residence hall, suite and apartment or student room.”
In the last sentence, Kutztown University capitalized and bolded the word “NOT.”
A school spokesman told Inside Higher Ed that, to his knowledge, no Kutztown student had actually decorated a dorm room or campus apartment with a swastika or a Confederate flag recently — or possibly ever.
The spokesman added that Kutztown officials have received inquiries about the whether they believe the policy could withstand cursory constitutional scrutiny. Attorneys for the school also appear to have intervened.
After the ban on unpopular symbols was rescinded, school officials released a follow-up statement: “Kutztown University recently announced a proposed change to its housing decoration policy restricting the display of symbols that promote messages inconsistent with the values of the university,” the statement reads. “Upon learning of the change, university legal counsel asked us to refrain from implementing the policy in order to permit a review for constitutionality.”
The Pennsylvania state constitution describes “the free communication of thoughts and opinions” as “one of the invaluable rights of man” and guarantees that “every citizen may freely speak, write and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.” (The “being responsible” part refers specifically to claims of libel.)
At the Kutztown University website, a page entitled “Decoration Policy” currently states: “This policy is currently being updated. Please check back later.”
Fracases related to swastikas and Confederate flags are not unknown on college campuses.
The most famous such incident of recent vintage occurred at Oberlin College in 2013 when two Obama-supporting white kids allegedly unfurled a huge swastika poster and generally circulated virulently racist, anti-Jewish and anti-gay messages around campus. (RELATED: Meet The Privileged Obama-Supporting White Kids Who Perpetrated Cruel Oberlin Race Hoax)
In 2014, concerns about tolerance, diversity and respect for differing viewpoints led an angry mob of students at all-female, negligibly prestigious Bryn Mawr College to protest the display of a Confederate flag and demand that the students who displayed it be forcibly evicted from their dorm room. (RELATED: Fancypants Women’s College Suffers FREAKOUT Over Confederate Flag)