Mac changes flag policy

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Until recently, first-year Vincy Chan’s flag was not flown at campus events or in Café Mac because of Macalester’s flag policy. Chan is an international student from Hong Kong, which is not an observer state or member of the United Nations. Due to a change in the flag policy, her flag will now be flown.

The new policy, updated last month, can be found in the online student handbook. It states that “flags of countries where current students hold passports will be displayed at campus events” and “will be flown on the flagpoles at the west entrance of Carnegie Hall and in Café Mac.” In contrast, the old policy only allowed that “the flags displayed at campus events represent international students studying at Macalester College whose countries are recognized with permanent observer status or are members of the U.N.”

The vast majority of international students are not affected by this change, but it is significant to students such as Chan who felt unrepresented in the past.

“I do feel more represented under the new policy,” Chan wrote in an email. “When asked where I am from, I say ‘Hong Kong’ and not ‘China,’ as I identify myself as a ‘Hongkonger’ instead of Chinese as my nationality. That stems from many aspects on which I ground my nationality on: language, culture, and political beliefs.”

The policy change gives the college the ability to more accurately express some students’ nationalities in the flags they fly, and it will not exclude the flags of any nations included under the previous policy. The nations currently represented at Macalester whose flags will now be flown after the policy change are Hong Kong, Kosovo and Taiwan.

Aaron Colhapp, Director of International Student Programs, sees the flag policy change as a very positive one.

“The reason for the change was to have a policy more inclusive of the representative student body,” Colhapp said. “The new policy does not subtract any flags from the previous policy, but does add flags, including all flags of students who have come to Macalester as international students in the 15 years I’ve been at Mac.”

Colhapp explained which students technically count as international students. These are students, he said, that hold a non-immigrant US visa, usually a temporary student (F) visa. This definition does not include typically include students with dual citizenship, but these students could still be affected by the revised policy.

“I don’t see all passports of dual citizens but imagine I may see a few more with the new policy,” he said.