Two San Diego State University students are facing possible expulsion after hanging the American flag and other military flags on their balcony.
The students claim it is their freedom of expression while the school argues the flags pose a safety issue.
Sophomore Cameron Box, an active duty Coast Guard member, and junior Connor Fenwick, an aspiring U.S. Army officer, said there is no better way to express their patriotism than hanging the flags.
“We’re just being proud of what we're affiliated with,” said Box.
The U.S. Coast Guard flag, a U.S. Army flag and an American flag hang on the balcony of their SDSU on-campus housing. The school is not as enthusiastic about the flags as Box and Fenwick.
“They're trying to say it's a fire hazard, but it just doesn't make much sense,” Box said.
The SDSU living agreement reads: "No items, except patio furniture designed for outdoor use, may be placed on balconies and patios. Hangings, partitions, or curtains of any type may not be used on balconies or patios."
“If you look up the definition of furniture, it does say it's an ornament and ornaments are particularly designed to beautify something,” Fenwick describes.
In a dictionary, furniture is commonly defined as "movable articles, as tables, chairs, desks or cabinets, required for use or ornament in a house, office, or the like."
“I don't know anyone who wouldn't say a flag is not designed for outdoor use,” Fenwick said.
A letter from SDSU to the students states they have violated policy and may now face expulsion.
Box and Fenwick counter that it comes down to interpretation, and they plan to stand their ground.
“Why can't we have our First Amendment rights?” Fenwick asked.
The school said it wants the flags taken down immediately. It said the flags pose a safety concern because it can potentially block visibility.