November 2, 2022
Dear Members of the Trinity Community,
The removal of two flags hanging outside a Trinity College student residence-hall window last week has sparked a conversation across social media about freedom of speech at Trinity. There have been suggestions that the removal of the flags reflects an attempt to restrict student speech on our campus. I write to reaffirm and restate clearly that Trinity College supports the freedom of speech and expression of our students.
The college did not intend for the flag removal to be seen as a political statement. The flags were removed pursuant to a long-standing policy in the Student Handbook that governs the placement of objects, including flags, outside residence-hall windows. The policy states: “No objects of any type (including liquid), may be thrown, dropped, pushed out of, placed outside of, or allowed to fall from any residential building window. Students found responsible for such actions will face residential censure.” What is clear is that no one is disputing the validity of such a policy, which was written with safety in mind. It also is clear that the policy has been enforced inconsistently. As I understand the matter, an apology was issued on the same day of the removal to the students who own the flags for the manner in which the policy was enforced. We will work harder to ensure greater awareness and consistent compliance moving forward.
Trinity College encourages civil discourse as a tenet of democracy and welcomes viewpoints across the ideological spectrum in our community. The college also remains firmly committed to student safety and respectful discourse. Both are core to our values as a liberal arts institution. If you have a concern about safety on campus, please reach out to Campus Safety at firstname.lastname@example.org.
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience