Judith Green, Executive Director of the Office of International Programs and Services, clarified the rules regarding the 81 flags that are flown in the Johnson Center during International Week. Students who consider themselves to be from nations such as Kurdistan will not have their flag flown in the Johnson Center, though they can fly their flag during the parade that takes place during international week.

Currently, the method for selecting flags takes into account how many international students George Mason University has from different nations. Mason looks at the nations that are most represented in the international student population, such as South Korea.

According to the Guidelines for Display of Flags, the top 20 most-represented nations have their flags flown. The American flag is always flown, and the remaining 60 spaces are systematically drawn.

The guidelines state, “The system for choosing the remaining 60 countries is based on listing them in alphabetical order and taking every other one, then every third one, and so forth, until our spaces are full. Countries not hung [in the current year] will be compiled as an ‘overflow list’ and each of these flags will be hung the following year so long as there is still at least one international student from that country enrolled.”

According to Green, there is limited space available at the Johnson Center, so they cannot fly the flags of all nations every year. The current process is intended to be fair to students, and there is no discrimination intended, Green said.

According to Green, the Palestinian flag is flown at the Johnson Center, but under the name of “West Bank,” and the Kurdish flag is not in the running.

The reason behind this is that when Mason submits visa documents for international students, the university must notify the government of two students’ country The list that Mason uses is provided by the United States Department of State.

This is the list that Mason uses when deciding what flags should be flown in the Johnson Center. Since Kurdistan is not on the list, it is also not taken into consideration when deciding which flags should be flown.

But according to Green, this doesn’t mean that Kurdish students and any student that doesn’t have their flag flown won’t have their flag represented during International Week.

“All students can and could fly their flags. In the parade anyone can fly their flag. In the showcase of cultures, anyone who has a table can fly a flag,” Green said. “[The flying of flags in the Johnson Center] focuses on giving tribute to international students.”

According to Green, if any student has any concerns, they can always meet with her or Birgit Debeerst, assistant director of OIPS, to discuss them. She acknowledges that while the system might not be perfect, Mason strives to make it as student-oriented as possible.

“This I-Week promises to be filled with wonderful programs and we hope students find something that peaks their interest and we hope they participate. This isn’t an OIPS event. It’s a student event,” Green said.