The petition claimed the ban was an attack on Newnham’s cultureDaniel Hilton for Varsity

Newnham students have launched a campaign against a ban on displaying flags outside college accommodation.

The ban, which was announced by the college on Sunday (12/05), places a ban on “external display of flags, posters, and banners” to be included in accommodation licences next year.

The JCR has since launched a petition against the change, stating in an email to all students that the change would endanger Newnham’s “inclusive atmosphere” and limit students’ ability to “express individualism and identity in a communal space”.

The petition also claimed the ban was an attack on Newnham’s culture, stating: “The flags flown at Newnham have been assertions of pride and visibility for communities who otherwise feel marginalised within College.”

The JCR criticised the College for failing to consult them on the change, claiming they “that tried to voice these opinions [of opposition], but unfortunately the information came in such a capacity that we are now aware the change is to happen whether we are against it or not”.

Some students have linked the ban to ongoing tensions over conflict in Gaza, with one student stating on Newnfess, the college’s anonymous confessions page, that the ban is a “blatant example of anti-Palestinian sentiment”.

Others have also criticised the ban as hypocritical as the ban would include the removal of LGBTQ+ flags, despite the college claiming to have a “history of tolerance and acceptance of nonconformity” on the JCR website.

Flag bans have previously been a point of conflict at other colleges, after Trinity Students were told to remove pride flags during LGBTQ+ history month, with one student claiming they were told by a porter that the College “don’t want to be putting things in people’s faces”.

One Newnham student told Varsity: “It is a genuine shame that the college have taken this decision, disregarding the strong student feeling against it. Flags are powerful assertions of pride and visibility for many students, including LGBT+ students like me.”

“The college cannot use the slogan ‘witty and rebellious’ and exploit Newnham’s history as an inherently radical and progressive project while simultaneously stifling student expressions of resistance and visibility,” they added.


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A Newnham College spokesperson told Varsity: “At Newnham we benefit from and welcome a diverse international community who all deserve to feel safe and respected, while being able to express individual identity and show solidarity with others. Newnham wholeheartedly supports freedom of expression and wishes to encourage students and staff to engage in robust, challenging and evidence-based civil debate.”

“We believe that not allowing individually chosen flags to display in our public spaces ensures a more neutral shared visual space, contributing to an inclusive setting. We have been discussing individual flag display with students since 2021, so this predates current crises. Newnham will continue to fly a variety of flags from the College flagpole including the pride flag,” they continued.