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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Flags deserve funding, respect”

    When we return to campus in August 2007, every classroom will be decked out with an American flag and copies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, per a new state mandate. And there will be slightly less money in UA’s coffers, unless some donors come through in a big way.

    When Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, wrote a bill mandating an American flag in every classroom across the state, it seemed almost laughable in its ignorance of how cash-strapped Arizona’s educational resources are. Arizona ranks 49th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in spending per student. But apparently, the fear of appearing unpatriotic trumps the fear of mismanaging funds. Gov. Janet Napolitano signed the bill, HB 2583, into law on June 28.

    The law requires an American flag no smaller than 2 feet by 3 feet as well as the Bill of Rights and the Constitution to be mounted in every public classroom in the state by July 1, 2007. With 433 instructional rooms and costs per flag estimated at $20, the overall expense will be marginal relative to the university’s budget. However, it is a cost nonetheless, one the UA can hardly find palatable in a state of shrinking public funds for higher education. Of course, the inevitable costs resulting from vandalism and maintenance have not even been addressed.

    The cost of these flags is not going to send the university into rapid financial ruin; the bill’s major flaw is of a more symbolic nature. If funding that created the kind of educated citizens true patriotism demands were passed with the same fervor, perhaps our universities and schools would not be in the financial trouble in which they presently find themselves.

    A second issue with the bill lies at its very crux. Many nations around the world mandate the display of national flags and pictures of leaders. In contrast, the United States has always been more committed to her ideals than her symbols. Something about being forced to spend money on a symbol representing freedom smacks of irony – and not in the good way.

    But the bill has already been passed, and complaining about it at this juncture does little. There are some appropriate responses to be considered at this point, however: First, a call to those who pushed for the passage of this bill to put their money where their proverbial mouths are, and make donations so that funding for the flags doesn’t come from the general funding of Arizona’s universities and schools. Second, a commitment to a mature student response.

    It would be appropriate for the bill’s vocal supporters to step forward and demonstrate a commitment not only to patriotic sentiment, but higher education – the economic engine of America – by donating the needed flags. Perhaps, indeed, Pearce and UA alumnus Tyler Mott, who initially pushed for the flag requirements, could pony up some necessary cash.

    As maddening as it potentially will be to see money allocated for these flags, student response at the UA should maintain respect for them. When the flags go up, demonstrating displeasure with this bill by desecrating something that should be held sacred would be a response that’s as childish as the bill itself.

    Patriotism comes with the knowledge of one’s national history and values, not a surfeit of symbols. When a course in U.S. history is not required to graduate, and, at least at the UA, the history department has suffered major setbacks in numbers of staff, it is a puzzle indeed that Arizona legislators expect students to grasp the importance of Old Glory simply through visual inundation.

    Opinions Board

    Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Nina Conrad, Lori Foley, Ryan Johnson, Ari Lerner, Nicole Santa Cruz and Matt Stone.

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