The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

Students host day-long peaceful protest for Pride flag removal on university Seal

Gabrielle Caumon / Hilltop Views
“It is definitely upsetting to know that they took down the flag and no matter how much we speak about wanting it back, they’re just not listening and also try to sweep it under the rug like it is not happening,” junior Yaleet Reyes said.

Pop music and flowing Pride flags fluttering in the wind fill passerbyers’ senses as they make their way to and from classes, witnessing a collaborative effort amongst students to make their voices heard. Today, St. Edward’s University students are protesting on the university’s Seal, calling for the return of a Pride flag that was displayed in Meadows Coffeehouse from 2018 to 2023

“You can’t silence us, we’re here and we’re gonna be unapologetically loud,” junior Yaleet Reyes said. “This is all our pride, all day, every day, and we’re not going anywhere.”

The protest began at 10 a.m. this morning and will continue until 6 p.m. Students and faculty alike are speaking to the crowd, sharing their personal experiences as members or allies of the queer community gather.

The student protest chant “Bring Back Our Flag” is chalked on the university side walk leading up to the seal. (Chloe Almendarez / Hilltop Views)

“Whether this is your first time coming out to the university Seal, and seeing symbols that are supposed to represent symbolically St. Edward’s University, where we talk about seeking justice, speaking truth to power, and saying that everyone is welcome here, that I, as the president, would mean it when I say that everyone is welcome here,” Associate Professor of Communication Teri Varner, Ph.D, said. 

The protest was organized by a group of students as a result of a recent cascade of events that began last week. 

A student signs Junior Mackenna Bierschenk’s open letter to administration, which now has over 160 student signatures. (Gabrielle Caumon / Hilltop Views)

“This protest was birthed after the (Student Government Association) meeting because that SGA meeting was severely disappointing for everyone who went, including me,” junior Mackenna Bierschenk said. “It really was the nail in the coffin for the administration not only to garner more support from the students and the administration but also from outside news organizations to question what was going on, so really the SGA meeting was weirdly pivotal in the events of the protest.”

The Office of Student Affairs sent an email on Monday acknowledging the “hurt, confusion and concern” that students have expressed since last week’s meeting. The email emphasized their “steadfast commitment to ensuring all of our students feel that they belong, feel welcomed, are seen, heard, loved, valued and respected” in alignment with the Holy Cross mission. The email also highlighted a Pride flag on campus in Equity Hall. 

“It’s in a remote room in Equity Hall at the edge of campus and to suggest that is remotely comparable to having the flag in the most busy spot on campus right at the heart of the school is ludicrous,” freshman Zachary Thayman said. “Having the flag up (inside) Meadows where hundreds of people go everyday and where the beating heart of campus life resides, that sends a very clear message of support from this school to the community. It is a very visible and present reminder of our diverse campus. A flag is meaningless if there’s no one there to see it.”

“When I pulled up a pride flag in Meadows and it was then taken down 2 hours later – yes it was me – I felt that it sent a very clear message that St. Edward’s wasn’t ready for the conversation that we are ready for,” Sully Snook said. “More than anything, they are more concerned about profits in their image than the ideas and concerns of students. I knew I had to come today to show my support and to make our voices heard.” (Gabrielle Caumon)


Around 11 a.m., university President Montserrat Fuentes walked by the seal, stopped momentarily to acknowledge faculty gathered outside Ragsdale, and did not engage with the protest. As she walked away, students began to chant: “Bring back our flag.”

“It’s a pretty important for a university that prides itself on a social justice thing to be able to display LGBT allyship, and to take it down on purpose and refuse to put it back up is a pretty big red flag and I think that all of us think that there is a really simple fix and we want it back,” senior Cat Ridge said.

Students continuously express their frustrations with administration amongst each other and through speeches. 

“C’mon, this is St. Edward’s of all places,” senior Juan Diego Chaparro said. “Educate yourself, don’t be so ridiculous. Embrace the things that make us unlike any of the other schools in Austin, and stop trying to make us something else that we’re not.” 

International student Zélie Alvernhe holding signs promoting the protection of democratic rights and progress. (Gabrielle Caumon)

Students said they are unsure what the next steps from administration will be. 

“I personally don’t foresee them putting the Pride flag up after this,” senior Zach Benoit said. “We’ve seen students protest before and nothing comes of it. We saw it with graduation and then people had to be carried off in ambulances after we said what was going to happen happened. However, I think that if students keep fighting and keep pushing and we keep doing more things like this and we don’t stop then there is a chance that we can get that pride flag back up.” 

Professor of Social Work Adam McCormick, Ph.D, described the steps that could be taken to address the situation.

“The university administration needs to do what’s right and put the flag back up,” McCormick said. “Give the students an apology, take accountability and start to do some repair work.”

The Theatre department poses at the protest.


Junior Grace Coldicott holding a progress flag at the protest. (Chloe Almendarez)


A number of faculty members show off their sign, expressing their support to students. (Gabrielle Caumon)


A hand-written protest sign lays on the ground on the seal. Students brought their own creative tools to make signs during the protest. (Chloe Almendarez)
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About the Contributors
Chloe Almendarez
Chloe Almendarez, Managing Editor
Chloe Almendarez is a senior Psychology major with a minor in Education Studies. This is their second year working with "Hilltop Views" as Managing Editor. They are passionate about exploring education and equity. For all advertisement and business inquiries, you may contact them at [email protected]
Gabrielle Caumon
Gabrielle Caumon, Staff Writer
Gabrielle Caumon is a junior from Paris, France, who is pursuing a major in the BFA Acting program and a minor in Journalism. This is her second semester writing for Hilltop Views and her first as a Staff Writer. She loves writing for the Life & Arts section, and is excited to branch out and try out other genres.

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