OPINION: Pomona, you don’t represent my country. Don’t fly its flag

Controversy over the flags flown at Pomona College’s Commencement ceremony last year culminated in the school agreeing to fly Puerto Rico’s  flag alongside those of other graduating students’ home countries. This year, another flag controversy plagues Pomona as the school announced it won’t fly any international flags. (Courtesy: Pomona College)

Pomona College has decided not to display the flags of international students’ home countries during this year’s commencement ceremony, according to ASPC.

This change in policy has caused discontent among international students and prompted the International Student Mentor Program to collect signatures arguing against it. But, as an international student, I’m all for the American flag flying alone May 19.

We have come to an American institution supported by American taxpayers and American philanthropists. It has an American structure, an American curriculum and American values. Still, in accordance to these American values, it has welcomed us from all over the world and given us the opportunity to be part of this community and this country.

For this, I am grateful and I think Americans can be proud.

However, we should not make it appear as though Pomona is an international institution. Pomona does not represent or serve our countries. In fact, it does them a disservice by facilitating brain drain, pulling well-educated international students away from their home countries.

We do not need the U.S. or its institutions to celebrate our cultures and support our countries. Flying our countries’ flags at Commencement would masquerade Pomona’s American mission, subordinate our national pride to American approval and cover the work of the institutions at home who are really putting the work to bring our countries up.

Pomona is deeply embedded in the structure of the U.S. This can be a beautiful and welcoming country, but it will never be anything other than the U.S. American colleges need to own their allegiance to the stars and stripes. With this not only comes a celebration of the U.S., but also a responsibility for its people, its institutions and its impact on the rest of the globe.

International students can be very proud of who we are and how we’ve succeeded far from home. This is a celebration nobody can take away from us. Our flags can be displayed on our stoles and be cherished in our hearts, but let’s not fool ourselves by flying them at commencement.

Adrián Suárez del Busto PO ’19 is a politics major from Agüimes, Spain. His proudest feat is when he took second place in his island’s ages 8 and under chess championship.

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