The Virginia Tech
March 5, 1969

SAC asks Hahn remove flag;
will not censor band, 'Dixie'

by John Chaney
Tech News Staff
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In an extended session February 27, the Student Activities Committee voted to recommend to President Hahn that he remove the Confederate flag from the Coliseum and, at the same time, refused to censor the VPI regimental Band from playing "Dixie". Approximately 25 interested students attended the meeting and many of these expressed their views on the issue. Dwight Crewe, president of the Human Relations Council, said in presenting the issues to the committee that the university should not "institutionalize" racism by flying the flag in the coliseum. Crewe said he felt the matter was not a question of majority rule but rather, of the rights of the individual.

Mark Musick, president of the Class of '69 and SGA senator, doubted this. Musick said that since neither side was totally right or totally wrong, then it was questionable as to whether the wishes of individuals should prevail over the wishes of the majority. Musick asked Crewe what he or others who felt the same way had done to "educate" the majority into believing as the minority does. Musick suggested that the use of the campus publications and dorm "bull" sessions as a means of doing this.

Crewe replied that he would be wasting his time trying to do this. In presenting the question to the student body, Crewe felt that he would come across 75% apathy and the other 25% would not change their minds.

Ray Smoot, SGA president, said that the majority of the students viewed the flag as a symbol of school spirit and not a symbol of racism. Crewe rebutted this by saying that there was no way that black students could rally around this school spirit symbol. Crewe said that one of the major reasons black athletes and students don't come to Tech is because of the flag in the Coliseum.

Mike Guy, president of the CIC, made a motion that was amended to read as follows: "The Student Activities Committee recommends that the University should not fly the Confederate battle flag in the Coliseum or at any other location on campus as an official policy of the University."

Before this motion was voted on, Ray Smoot moved to refer the matter "to the SGA Senate for consideration before the Student Activities Committee acts on the original motion." The referral motion was defeated by the vote of Chairman James Dean after the committee itself deadlocked at 9 - 9 vote. The original motion then was passed with smoot casting the only dissenting vote.

The SAC then took up the matter of "Dixie." Steve Wickham, captain of the Regimental Band, said that the members of the band view "Dixie" as a fight song, and not one of racism. He stated that if the student body were against it, then the band could not play it. He added that the band would view it as a form of censorship if they were told not to play it.

Al Savageau, chairman of the Publications Board, agreed with Wickham. He felt that the matter of the "Dixie" was totally different from the flag issue since censorship of the band might lead to censorship of student publications.

Pat Tucker, president of the SGA Senate, made the following motion which was approved by the committee, "The Student Act Committee recommends that the University should not censor any recognized student organization operating within its charter as approved by the SAC, for any of its actions except those outside state and federal laws. We further believe that limiting the selection of music available to the VPI Regimental Band is censorship for reasons other than state and federal laws."

Mark Musick then read the following motion: "The Student Activities Committee recommends to the president of the University Council be asked for recommendation concerning the question: Should the University fly the Confederate battle flag in the Coliseum or at any location on campus as a part of University authority. The SAC has recommended that the flag, commonly referred to as the Confederate battle flag, should not be flown on campus as part of University authority. However, it does not recommend that the flag be removed until all other appropriate groups in the University community have been consulted." The motion was then approved by the committee.