According to the letter to the Daily Lobo (read it here) from Lt. Col. Erik Sevigny, the Army ROTC was responsible for raising the American flag and our state flag last Friday morning. The third flag pole that normally flies the university flag was left empty and unlocked for the Mexican Student Association to fly the Mexican national flag. The Mexican Student Association later arrived and raised the Mexican flag on the pole that normally flies the UNM flag.
That night, the Army ROTC returned, lowered the American flag and the state of New Mexico flag but left the Mexican flag, assuming that the Mexican Student Association would return to remove the Mexican national flag which they had raised earlier in the day. The MSA apparently never returned to lower the flag. The result, the Mexican flag remained flying over Scholes Hall and the University of New Mexico until Monday morning when Ryan Lynch found the Mexican flag flying solo over a state university.
In his letter to the Lobo, Lt.Col. Sevigny goes on to trumpet cultural awareness and diversity; something every good association that is "allowed" to operate on campus is expected to do. When you analyze this flag "incident," there's plenty of blame to go around.
Mr. Lynch was probably correct in removing the Mexican flag that was flying alone outside of Scholes Hall. Maybe he shouldn't have ripped it into two pieces but under the circumstances perhaps his actions were not only understandable but justifiable.
Maybe the Army ROTC whose responsibility it was to hoist the Stars and Stripes along with the Zia of New Mexico should have also taken down the Mexican national flag instead of leaving it flying. Although, we can understand why they didn't since they were not the ones to raise it.
That leaves the Mexican Student Association. Who according to Lt.Col. Sevigny were responsible for raising it. The MSA subsequently failed to lower the Mexican flag and left it flying alone over the University of New Mexico until Monday morning when Ryan Lynch removed it.
When you look for blame... there's plenty. When you look for fault, it lies squarely with the Mexican Student Association. After all, they were responsible for leaving the Mexican flag flying Friday night. A flag that continued to fly solo over the weekend and was only lowered after Ryan Lynch removed it for them.
We will never know whether they left the Mexican flag flying by accident or intentionally. What we do know is that they never returned to remove the flag that they were supposed to be honoring.
It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.Since the flag poles in question are not illuminated, the first "desecration" of the Mexican national flag actually occurred Friday night when the MSA failed to remove the Mexican flag. It was repeated both Saturday and Sunday night as it continued to fly over UNM without deference to the flag of the United States; which by the way should have never been allowed by the university.
Maybe Mr. Lynch should not have ripped the flag in two, but it certainly had already been "desecrated" no less than three times by the time Mr. Lynch removed it from the UNM flag pole. There is fault and there certainly was desecration, but both were the responsibility of the Mexican Student Association.