Eastern community reacts to “We are EIU” flagpole

Kyara Morales-Rodriguez, Staff Reporter

On Oct. 9, political science graduate student Morgan Colvin and senior English education major Shyra Bluminberg raised the Black Lives Matter flag as the first flag on Eastern’s brand new “We are EIU” flagpole.

The flagpole will be used to raise many flags throughout the school year important to members of the Eastern community, helping recognize the many diverse communities on campus. The “We are EIU” flagpole will recognize the Eastern community members of different ethnicities, cultures, and genders and orientation.

The flag has only been up for a few days and already has stirred controversy, with some members of the Eastern community being supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement and others not.

Many Eastern students, faculty, alumni, and community members took to Eastern’s social media platforms to express their thoughts on Eastern’s new flag and flagpole and left comments under Eastern’s posts about the flag raising.

Amy Mitchell Erickson commented on Eastern’s Facebook page saying that though she supports her Black friends, she does not support the Black Lives Matter movement or this flag being raised.

“I support my black friends 100% but disavow the Black Lives Matters organization as a hateful, leftist, violent Marxist partisan group, detrimental to the family. Shame on you EIU for being partisan,” Erickson said.

Eastern alumnus, Kevin Corley, commented on Eastern’s Facebook post about the flag raising expressing great disgust at Eastern’s decision to raise the flag.

In a Facebook comment, he explained how he felt Black Lives Matter was a divisive Marxist organization that Eastern should not be supporting.

“As a 1976 graduate of EIU, I am disgusted by my alma mater drinking the Kool Aide of Leftist propagandists. I hate racism and have fought it my entire life,” he said. “However, Black Lives Matter is a divisive Marxist organization that is actually focused more on politics than the improvement and well-being of Black lives. The proof is in the way the organization acts. Everywhere it goes it leaves destroyed Black neighborhoods and Black bodies in its wake.”

Another community member, Etan Nella, expressed anger, saying that putting the Black Lives Matter flag up is divisive.

“When is the confederate flag going up? If you can have all this B.S. divisive garbage go up, you better be putting that up too,” Nella said.

Eastern alumnus G.I. Matthews said on Eastern’s Facebook post that as an alumni, he was embarrassed to see the flag go up.

“[Black Lives Matter] is not about black lives but about bringing America to socialism. If black lives were an issue, why have we killed over 900,000 black babies, let education go to hell in intercity schools, brought social programs into the home by rewarding when fathers aren’t present,” he said. “Martin Luther King knew only God can save a losing world. I pray he didn’t die in vain. Socialism has never worked, it rewards those at the top and neglects those in need. We have lost ourselves as those that rewrite history take life from us. American vs. Communism.”

The Black Lives Matter flag being raised did not only receive distain from members of the Eastern community, but also a lot of love and support from other community members.

Ben Marcy, an Eastern alumnus, expressed disappointment in the many white alumni posting negative comments about the flag being raised.

“As a White alumnus, I am disappointed in so many White alumni who are posting negative comments on this action. Black Lives Matter. If this idea offends you, you need to examine why you need the oppression [of] Black people to feel good about yourself,” Marcy said under Eastern’s Facebook post. “Students, staff and faculty: keep up the fight in this journey to racial justice. You make me proud to be a Panther.”

Eastern’s decision to have a flagpole dedicated to recognizing the many diverse communities on campus has also received a lot of love from Eastern students.

Diana Rogel, a senior psychology student, was very glad to finally see Eastern taking a major step forward in supporting the Black community on campus.

She said she thinks this decision by Eastern was a great step in Eastern history, since the flagpole will allow Eastern to show support to all students on campus.

“It’s definitely giving us an opportunity to be inclusive and to allow people to have their voices heard, so I was very happy to finally see that,” she said. “Especially since I’ve been hearing since my sophomore year that they’ve been trying to put the flag up. It’s nice to see that it’s finally up after so long. It shouldn’t have taken this long, but at least it’s finally there.”

Rogel also expressed a lot of support for the two students who worked tirelessly to have a Black Lives Matter raised on campus.

“I’m very proud of Morgan and Shyra,” Rogel said. “They’re still trying to do their part here and give the Black community here on campus a voice, and I think that’s great on their behalf.”

Cristina Colin, a senior psychology student, has been supportive of the Black Lives Matter flag being raised on campus since two years ago when the idea was initially introduced. She said she felt it was the start to Eastern students becoming more outspoken about the issues that affect them, rather than being scared to speak up.

Colin said she was very glad to see the flag be raised and hopes more is done on campus to show support for the various diverse communities on campus.

“I’m hoping President Glassman will be more open to doing stuff like this, because in the past years, he hasn’t really been there for students of color. He’s finally opening up because people are fighting for things like this to happen more. I just hope to see President Glassman do more for the campus and minorities,” Colin said.


Kyara Morales-Rodriguez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]