Students protested for their right to hang the Kurdish flag during International Week last Tuesday on the North Plaza.

Lena Badr, president of the Students for Justice in Palestine and the secretary of the Arab Student Association, says she can always count on George Mason University’s diverse population to stand up for student rights. And when Badr and her peers from the SJP, ASA and Kurdish Student Organization gathered on the North Plaza last Tuesday to protest and get students to sign a petition for Palestinian and Kurdish students’ rights to fly their flags during International Week, things were no different. Approximately 320 students signed the petition.

“That’s the best part of this campus,” said Badr, a government and international politics major. “It’s beautiful to see people coming together from all different walks and all different backgrounds.”

At the end of March, new I-Week flag policies were set in place that only allow flags of countries listed on the immigration documents of Mason students to be displayed in the Johnson Center. Palestine and Kurdistan’s flags do not meet those standards.

Several Student Government senators also took on the cause, proposing “a resolution to include all cultural groups represented by Mason students in the displaying of flags during International Week on campus,” which unanimously passed in the Student Senate last Thursday.

However the new flag guidelines, which were based on “earnest discussion among students, faculty, staff and administrators,” are here to stay according to Kathy Trump, associate dean of International Education and Programs.

“I doubt that [the policy] will be revised,” Trump said. “The guidelines that have been written were written with much careful thought and were approved by the administration and we think they’re the best we can do.”

Trump also said that even countries that are allowed by the policy to hang their flags in the Johnson Center do not always receive that privilege due to limited space.

Students hail from approximately 135 countries and there is only room to hang 81 flags in the Johnson Center. That means 54 flags from countries that meet the I-Week flag policies will not be flown.

“Even if the guidelines allowed [Kurdistan’s] flag to be displayed, there would be no guarantee it would be displayed,” said Trump. “The list is rotating and there will be different flags every year so that every country does eventually have the opportunity to have its flag in the Johnson Center.”

In the future, Trump says other venues, such as Mason Hall, will be looked at as possible locations to hang flags so that all 135 countries’ flags can be flown.

Some of the students at last Tuesday’s protest felt that the fact that the university’s Confucius Institute receives funding from China has something to do with the new flag policy.

“No matter how much money they put into the school…we don’t stand against their rights and we’re hoping they won’t stand against ours anymore,” said one of the demonstrators, Alan Muhealden, a systems engineering major.

On the “Mason Bans Flags Representing Recognized Student Organizations” Facebook page Rizhna Chener, president of the Kurdistan Student Organization claims the policy is based on “fears that recognizing non-states…would inflame the Chinese embassy and by extension the Chinese government, which donates a significant amount of money to the university.”

In a prior interview with Broadside, Trump disputed these claims.

“The best interests of our entire campus community, in all its amazing diversity, were kept in mind as we worked to craft the flag guidelines,” she said.

According to Badr no more protests are currently planned in order to respect the celebration of cultures during I-Week.

“We do want to honor the diversity and the coming together of the events,” said Badr.

Even though Kurdish and Palestinian students cannot have their flags flown in the Johnson Center, Trump says they are encouraged to display their flags and cultures at today’s Opening Ceremony and Celebration as well as other I-Week events.

Students from the KSO and SJP plan on marching with their countries’ flags during the opening event.
“There are many opportunities for our flag to fly high, it would just be nice if the faculty could join us in doing that,” said Badr.

“We really want the international students to feel welcome,” Trump said. “The Kurdish students have such a strong tie back to their Kurdish roots and we really want them to feel they can display that.”

Broadside Copy Chief Monika Joshi contributed to this report.



  1. 2 years ago OIPS said that the flags which were not hung in JC due to space issues would be hung in Mason Hall. We didn’t find our flag in the JC, so we went to Mason Hall only to find out that they LIED to us to get us off their backs. There were NO flags in Mason Hall at all.

  2. imagine if you attended a University named after the father of the Bill of Rights, and then for certain displays of diversity at the University, your specific right of expression was denied. I don’t have to imagine this, happens to me every year at George Mason.

  3. Ara Alan says:

    This is not a fair decision by GMU. All students have the right to be represented. The flags should represent the student body. What is the point of flying flags that does not the student body and not allow those flags that represent the ethnic heritage of the students.
    Kurdistan’s flag is recognized officially and internationally. I dont understand if it can be in the white house but not in GMU? I think it is a shame

  4. I really don’t understand why GMU is making this such a big deal out of this… Just fly any flag of any ethnicity. This is a free nation. Let us apply the first ammendment. Who cares if you are a Palistinian, a Kurd, an Israeli, a Brazilian, etc. etc.

  5. Haeker Security Company.

  6. Khalid Gravi says:

    its shame on them to not respect human’s right!!!

  7. Khalid Gravi says:

    I can’t believe they did some thing like that!!!

  8. Dalia Sadeq says:

    I greatly agree with flying the flag of kurdistan like all other nations of the free nation of the world..and this flag should represent kurdish students as well.

  9. sapan says:

    very good flage kurdistan

  10. Bo palpişti kırdini helkirdini alay KURDISTAN le zankoy jorc misin le waşnton tikaya le ra pirsiyeke lem peyca “A” helbijére…….supas

  11. Ako Baban says:

    بزى كورد بزى كوردستان

  12. Kurdo Xabor says:

    نضحي بالنفيس والغالي من اجل استقلال كردستان ورفع رايتها فوق مبنى الامم المتحدة

  13. Rose Aryan says:

    Kurds as one of the ancient nations and Kurdistan (Kurdland) as the cradle of the civilization clearly need to be recognised as a Nation and a Country.
    not just students but all people should be free to represent themselves and fly their own flag. We are living in 21st century and people should be free to be what they are.