Petition: Swarthmore, Fly the U.S. Flag at Half-Mast

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

You can add your signature to the petition HERE.

Dear President Valerie Smith,

On January 27, President Trump signed an executive order that banned citizens of seven countries from entering the United States. Throughout yesterday, refugees, students, and immigrants who had already obtained visas were cruelly refused entry. Many of them were fleeing violence and atrocity at home.

A judge has now ordered those people released, but thousands more, who had obtained visas but hadn’t boarded their planes yet are now indefinitely stranded abroad. Others can no longer obtain visas. Many will die because of this.

With this order, xenophobia and racism have become national policy. While Trump falsely claimed that the order is not a Muslim ban, it is a direct implementation of Trump’s campaign promise to end Muslim immigration. Outrageously, Trump has indicated that Christians from those countries will still be allowed. As such, the act violates the fundamental American principle of religious freedom.

As a progressive educational institution, Swarthmore cannot afford to stand by as millions become victims of Trump’s pandering to domestic extremists. Trump’s executive order is an act of unprecedented violence and cruelty, and it demands a powerful response.

Therefore, we ask that in mourning of those who are suffering because of this ban, and in protest of its callous islamophobia, Swarthmore fly its flag at half-mast for one week, in addition to unequivocally condemning the executive order.

Flags are usually lowered in mourning of death, and refugees denied entry will die. Flags can also be lowered in distress and protest. After President Trump’s election, students at Hampshire flew the flag at half-mast to protest the disastrous outcome.

This proposal is not disrespectful of the flag. Quite the opposite: We recognize the flag’s symbolic meaning and the noble principles it stands for. But when these very principles are trampled by the executive branch, lowering the flag in protest signals respect for these values, and fear for their survival.


[Over 300 signatories as of January 29]


Featured image by Eduard Saakashvili ’17.


1 Comment

  1. This country is under no obligation to allow anyone in here. Indeed, there have been many times we have allowed no one in. You also conflate the temporary ban with religious freedom. It has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with security. Your infantile idea of flying the flag at half-staff is about what one would expect from Swarthmore college “emerging adults”.

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