An Armenian flag was installed in Frank Dining Hall over Thanksgiving break after a year-long effort by the Armenian Students’ Association (ASA). More than 40 flags hang from the ceiling of Frank, which represent every international student and their country on campus.
According to ASA President sophomore Ani Arzoumanian, she emailed President of Colgate University Brian Casey in early November, saying that she was upset with the bureaucratic process in attempt to get the flag hung in Frank.
“I felt that it was clear the [Student Government Association (SGA)] wasn’t doing anything, so the ASA executive board met and decided to go straight to the top and email President Casey. In all
honesty, we didn’t think he would do much but believed he could point us in the right direction. He ended up being super helpful and handled everything quickly,” Arzoumanian said.
According to International Student SGA representative, senior Chihoon In, there are other discrepancies between the international student population and the flags hanging at Frank.
“Currently the SGA has recognized that not all of the students at Colgate have their national flags represented at Frank and is working to install their flags.
Administrators including admissions and campus safety have been contacted and we are currently in progress to putting the final plan into progress and contacting all necessary offices on campus to install the flags.”
After meeting junior Mariam Grigoryan, an international student from Armenia, Arzoumanian said she was surprised that there was no
Armenian flag in Frank. Arzoumanian is not an international student, but she is a descendant of survivors of the Armenian Genocide and is very active in the Armenian community. Arzoumanian and
Grigoryan met with sophomore Alique Fisher and Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in Humanities, Professor of English Peter Balakian, who are also of Armenian descent. They decided to speak with the Executive Chef at Frank, Damian Price. Price referred them to several administrators in an October 18, 2018 email.
“I am not sure where we are in the process with [SGA] etc. and told [Arzoumanian] that I would continue to drive this forward so that all students are represented. Especially as it is a highlighted point of campus tours it should be accurate and updated on at least a yearly basis,” Price said.
According to Arzoumanian, the request was referred to SGA, and then-president Jenny Lundt '19. In an email sent on December 12, 2018, Lundt cited “a bunch of administrative factors that you might not be aware of in terms of being fair to students, keeping a protocol, having to fireproof the flags, getting funding, getting the funding approved, putting in a work order,” which are all causes for slowing down the process.
According to Arzoumanian, Lundt continued to work on getting approval for the rest of her time in SGA and eventually passed it on to the newly elected officials in spring 2018. During this time, Arzoumanian, Fisher and Grigoryan officially formed the ASA, which is currently a petitioning club with seven members.
After no concrete progress, Arzoumanian wrote to Casey with the ASA’s concerns.
“I am writing to you because we, as Armenians and as Colgate students, are alarmed that Colgate University would choose to represent some ethnicities and nations, and completely ignore others,” Arzoumanian said in the email.
President Casey responded to the ASA’s concerns.
“I simply asked our Buildings and Grounds folks to get one up, which they did,” Casey said.
Casey said that he does not know of any flag policy or process in place to ensure that the flags at Frank accurately represent the international student population.
ASA Vice President first-year Ava Horn said seeing the flag hung in Frank made her proud to represent her country on campus.
“I was so happy to see the Armenian flag when I walked into Frank after break. It made me feel so welcomed by the Colgate community and made me even more proud to be an Armenian at Colgate. Ani and I decided to sing the Armenian National Anthem to celebrate the flag’s raising, as we do in the Armenian community,” Horn said.
The Armenian Flag has red, blue and orange stripes and can now be found near the coffee station, in the center of a row of flags.