While the Hall of Flags started out as a way to recognize and honor international students on campus, it has since turned into a hall of confusion and disrepair.
Connecting the Woodbury Business Building to both the Sorensen Student Center and the Pope Science Building, the Hall of Flags is lined with flags from various countries, as well as all 50 U.S. state and territorial flags. However, there are currently 22 flags without any nameplates to identify them. What’s even worse, there are students whose home countries’ flags are nowhere to be found.
According to the Fall 2010 International Student Census, provided by the International Center, there is one student from Chad, one student from Moldova, one student from Taipei and two students from Tajikistan currently enrolled, all of whose flags are not being represented in the Hall of Flags.
As for the flags on display, some are mislabeled. For example, Russian Republic is listed instead of the currently accurate Russian Federation or Ireland instead of the more correct Republic of Ireland. Some labels are confusing and inconsistent, such as Taiwan being labeled the Republic of China and China labeled the People’s Republic of China, but South Korea is not labeled the Republic of Korea nor is Laos labeled Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
But perhaps the most embarrassing aspect of the hall is the Yugoslavian flag being prominently displayed despite the fact Yugoslavia has not existed since 1992.
In speaking with both the Director of the International Center, Dr. Danny Damron, and the Assistant Director of International Students and Scholar Services, Steve Crook, there seemed to be some confusion as to who exactly is in charge of installing and maintaining the flags. It appears the tradition started in 2000 when Malan Jackson was the Director of the International Center. Jackson held a flag ceremony and installed flags from the different countries of international students.
According to Junko Watabe, Senior Advisor of International Students and Scholar Services, the original flags were purchased by the Alumni Center. As the number of international students grew and the International Center developed, the costs of purchasing both flags and nameplates was shared by both the Alumni Center and International Center. Since then, the responsibility to the Hall of Flags seems to have slipped between the cracks and has become lost. No one seems to know who is in charge of the flags, or more importantly, who will pay for new ones.
“We’re not given any funding to purchase new flags,” Damron said. “And I don’t know if facilities is in charge of it.”
Crook has since promised to talk to the International Student Council, headed by Chris Chileshe as acting president, to inventory the flags and see what changes need to be made. With the help of the International Student Council, hopefully the Hall of Flags will be updated and restored to its original purpose and state.