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University Tells Student to Remove Confederate Flag -- Were His Constitutional Rights Violated?

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"I am from North Carolina and the school is blatantly ignoring my rights to express the cultural identity..."

Matthew Papay. (Image Source: Facebook)

A student at a private New York university says his school violated his First Amendment rights when administrators told him to remove a Confederate flag from his dorm room window.

Matthew Papay, 19, syas he was initially told by a resident advisor he had to remove a Confederate flag from his window because it violated a fire code, according to the Democrat & Chronicle. After he complied, he says he then talked to the fire marshall and was cleared to instead display a paper version of the flag.

Matthew Papay. (Image Source: Facebook)

School administrators, however, then told him he had to remove the paper version because people were complaining, Papay says.

"I understand that your flag is up out of pride and you can feel free to leave it up but on a wall of your room," Christian said, according to the Democrat & Chronicle. "It should not be in the window because of the discomfort it is causing people and because it does not necessarily represent the heritage of the whole house."

Papay reluctantly complied, but now says two University of Rochester deans lied about what really happened in an email they sent to students last Friday.

[sharequote align="right"]"The deans lied in the email about why I took it [the Confederate flag] down."[/sharequote]

"The deans (Richard Feidman and Matthew Burns) lied in the email about why I took it down — saying I did so by choice after discussion with fellow students — when in reality the school told me to take it down," the sophomore told the Democrat & Chronicle.

"I am from North Carolina and the school is blatantly ignoring my rights to express the cultural identity I choose to identify with, even though the school prides itself on how 'culturally diverse' it is," he added.

Burns, however, reportedly insists he did not lie, but was acting on incomplete information when he sent the email. The dean also said Papay should have been allowed to keep the flag up and said school officials "misspoke" when they ordered the flag's removal.

In a Facebook post, Papay, who is now free to display the flag, insisted he is "not a racist" and "[does] not discriminate." He also said he has "never personally met a southerner who displayed it out of hate."

According to the Democrat & Chronicle, a number of constitutional experts say private colleges don't have to offer their students the same constitutional protections as public schools.

(H/T: Mail Online)

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Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

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