Kirsty Capes

A Brunel student living in the Isambard complex has won a tense battle with Brunel’s accommodation services after they emailed her demanding that she remove an LGBT Pride flag from her halls accommodation window.

The fourth year student received an email from a Brunel Commercial employee in March asking that she remove the flag, stating that “we don’t allow flags in the window due to this causing controversy and/or political tension”.

Rainbow_flag_and_blue_skies

The Brunel Accommodation website outlines rules for tenants living in any of the on-campus Brunel accommodation complexes, including how a resident can and cannot decorate their bedroom. The website has regulations on where posters, photographs and pictures can be affixed, and rules that forbid “spray snow” on windows. There are no regulations on flags displayed in windows.

The student contested the Residence Officer’s request, citing the regulations and commenting that “it is my understanding that the University is now fully supportive of the LGBT Community and encourages events [and] posters in the University.”

After the student challenged the initial instruction to remove her LGBT Pride flag, the accommodation employee claimed in a second email that “I was not aware of what the flag symbolised.”

The employee’s email concluded: “we must ensure that all flags irrespective of what they symbolise are removed.  All students who I emailed received the same email with the same wording.”

After further resistance from the student, the employee conceded, saying: “We have had many situations in the past where flags have indeed caused many disputes between students which is why we have always asked to have them removed.  We are not aware of all flags and the countries or any other meaning they have and it is not intended to offend anyone.

“We have had much discussion over the displaying of flags and have now decided that the flags can now remain, there is no specific regulation which forbids flags.”

The Union of Brunel Students implements an active equal opportunities and diversity policy, which states that the Union seeks to “prevent any members from being disadvantaged through direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds [of] sexuality [...] or political belief.”

Brunel University’s Equality and Diversity statement reads: “It is the University’s intention to support the development of a culture where all may live, study and work without encountering prejudice or discrimination because of their gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion, belief or age.”