by Teofil Camarasu
Oriel’s Governing Body voted on Wednesday to fly the rainbow flag in February from 2018 onwards – except days when the college flag takes precedence. February marks LGBT History Month in the UK, an annual event that aims to raise awareness around discrimination against the community and interrogate heteronormative attitudes in society.
In committing to flying the flag for the whole month, Oriel joins the ranks of 12 other colleges that do similarly. Oriel has in previous years flown the rainbow flag for the first and last day of February.
The move comes as a result of a campaign led by former JCR LGBTQ+ Officer Alex Waygood, who presented a 26-page position paper to the Governing Body in January. By flying the flag throughout February, proponents argue that Oriel reaffirms its commitment to its Equal Opportunities Policy and expresses solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. The JCR voted twice in support of the changes over the past year.
The rainbow flag was designed by activist Gilbert Baker in 1978 to be a symbol for the LGBTQ+ community. It was commissioned by fellow activist Harvey Milk, and has come to be used internationally as a symbol and celebration of diversity.
The Governing Body also voted in the meeting to clarify the flag policy available to students, to display in the lodge the reasons for a certain flag being flown, and to clarify the process for flags to be approved by the Governing Body. However, the Governing Body chose not to amend the current ban on flags flown from students’ windows. Those proposals were rejected ‘on grounds of tidiness, health and safety, and avoiding conflict over the flying of flags’.