Campus flags represent student diversity, unity
Four symbols of unity and diversity decorate Roanoke College's picturesque campus.
They are four flags that fly high on the College's back quad, facing High Street.
While the United States, Virginia and Roanoke College flags remain constant, the fourth rotates with a different country's flag every week, representing Roanoke's current international students.
"The flags are a way that Roanoke recognizes, honors and welcomes the heritage of our international students," said Lorraine Fleck, the director of International Education at Roanoke.
Fleck said the tradition of displaying the international flags began in the early 1980s.
Drs. Mark Miller and Howard Warshawsky, who were serving as co-directors of International Education at the time, flew an international flag out of their Trout Hall office window, she said.
As a gift to the College, Roanoke's class of 1990 funded the flag display on the Back Quad. The display includes the four flag poles, lights and a brick wall. This project was completed in September 1993.
South Korea's flag was the first to be flown in the new display in honor of Roanoke's first international student, Suhr Beung Kiu, who graduated in 1898. He was the first Korean student to graduate from an American college.
The international flags and those for the United States, Virginia and Roanoke College
are displayed or carried by students at important ceremonies, including the College's opening convocation and graduation. Other flags including those for Phi Beta Kappa and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America are also featured.
Each international student carries their country's flag in the graduation procession. If there are multiple students from one country, then the students decide among themselves who will carry their country's flag. The remaining students walk alongside the elected student.
This fall, Roanoke welcomed 28 new international students, including 10 freshmen, which is the largest increase of first-year students in nearly a decade, said Elise Bennett, the associate director of Admissions at Roanoke.
Some hail from countries that are new to Roanoke, including Saudi Arabia and Kenya, she said.
The International Education office compiles a list of all the international students at the beginning of the year and new flags are ordered when necessary, said Scott Couchman, who is assistant director of International Education at the College.
Any other student
with a close connection to another country can request to carry that country's flag at graduation or have it flown on campus.
"The flags show our international students that they are important members of our campus community," Fleck said.
-Posted Nov. 27, 2012