As flags across the United States flew at half staff this week in remembrance of the events of September 11, 2001, so too did the six official flags on the University of Calgary campus. Although the U of C did not originally intended to lower its flags, last minute communication with the Alberta Government saw the flags flying at half staff this Wednesday.
"I was pretty confounded when our request to have the flags lowered was denied by the university," said Students' Union President Matt Stambaugh. "But it's nice to see that they changed their decision."
The SU had requested several weeks prior to September 11 that the campus flags be lowered. However, their initial plea was denied by the Office of the Vice President Finance and Service. After the decision, the SU appealed to the university to reconsider, arguing that the events of September 11, 2001 merited an exception to university policy.
According to Linda Feltmate of the Office of the Vice President Finance and Service, September 11 did not meet the university's criteria for lowering the on-campus flags.
"With over 20,000 students plus faculty, staff and recently-retired associates, we are faced with many occasions on which to lower the flags," said Feltmate. "We have to limit our standards to include the passing of students, faculty members or staff; otherwise we'd be raising and lowering the flags all the time."
Exceptions, however, have been made by the university in recent months. In March 2002, flags at the U of C were lowered in observance of the death of the Queen Mother. In that case the directions were handed down directly from the Provincial Government. In other situations, such as the accidental death of several members of the Canadian Military in Afghanistan this year, the university maintained its flag-lowering policy, displaying campus flags at full staff.
Despite the university's original decision to fly campus flags at full height, the Alberta Government clarified late Tuesday evening that flags across the province would indeed be lowered on September 11. The university was encouraged to do the same, spawning the decision by the Office of the Vice President to retract its original consideration.