A new flag, a symbol of inclusivity, now hangs above the students who tap at their keyboards and kick their feet up in the atrium of Temple University’s Howard Gittis Student Center.
Temple hung the “Progress” Pride flag in mid-January. It’s a symbol of acceptance, a catalyst for conversation, and a statement that the university is “supportive of everybody,” said Jason Levy, senior director of student center operations.
“We really want students to feel comfortable here,” Levy said. “We want everybody to come in the building knowing that they have a place.”
And the university appears to be at the forefront of colleges across the region thatdisplay the flag.
The Inquirer reached out to more than a dozen schools across the region, and of the 10 that responded — including the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University, West Chester and Lincoln Universities, and Rutgers-Camden — none hung the flag.
The flag is an update of the traditional LGBTQ banner, with the six-stripe rainbow. It has an additional five stripes arranged in a chevron shape: three represent transgender individuals, and two represent marginalized people of color and individuals living with AIDS or facing other stigmas. It’s not to be confused with the city’s official Pride flag, released in 2017, which added black and brown stripes to recognize people of color who had long felt excluded.
College unions are the “living room” of campuses, Levy said, a place to eat, study, meet with friends, and put your feet up. They’re a site of inclusivity. So Temple’s student center makes sense as the site for the flag, he said.
Conversations swirled last September between Levy and his staff about which flags would be added to the student center when the time came to rotate the country flags that hang in the atrium. Then, someone pitched the Pride flag, and the idea immediately caught on.
Levy didn’t know of other colleges displaying the Progress Pride flag, though some local colleges hang Philly’s official Pride flag. That all but sealed the deal.
The flag that now hangs was crafted by Oregon-based designer Daniel Quasar. Its installation was the result of efforts among Levy’s staff, Temple Student Government, the Queer Student Union, and the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership.
“Students are really happy to see that this flag is up there,” said junior Hailey McCormack, director of communications for Temple Student Government, “because it shows that Temple is progressive. It shows that Temple is really representing as many people as possible.”
Some see it as proof that Temple takes steps to ensure it is an inclusive university fostering a safe environment, she said.
The current student government inherited this project from the prior administration, McCormack said, but continued to champion and advocate for the flag.