Kutztown pulls back ban on Confederate flag, swastika

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KUTZTOWN, Pa. (AP) — An eastern Pennsylvania university has pulled back a plan to bar students from displaying what it called "distasteful" and "demeaning" decorations such as the Confederate flag and swastikas in residence halls and common areas.

Kutztown University said in a statement on its website Tuesday that university lawyers asked officials to refrain from implementing the proposed decorations policy because of concerns about its constitutionality.

Due to the legal review, the university said "references to any specific content, such as symbols, will be removed from the policy." Instead, officials said they would "educate students and other members of the community so they will understand the historical and modern context for these symbols."

The university said last week that it would ban "obscene, distasteful displays which are demeaning to an individual's or group's race, ethnic, religious background, and/or gender or ability." The policy noted that the Confederate flag and swastika "are NOT permitted in any residence hall, suite, and apartment or student room."

University spokesman Matt Santos said the policy stemmed from concerns raised by students about the display of the Confederate flag, but he wasn't aware of any specific incidents on campus.

Kutztown University, about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia, is one of 14 state-operated universities. Kenn Marshall, a spokesman for the state system, said he wasn't aware of any other schools having adopted a similar policy, but if so it would have been developed at the local level by that university.

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