Protest planned at Sandhills Community College over impact of amended banner policy

Monique John Image
Friday, November 3, 2023
Protest planned after Sandhills Community College amends banner policy
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Community members are planning a protest at Sandhills Community College on Saturday morning.

SANDHILLS, N.C. (WTVD) -- People in Moore and Hoke counties say they're planning on protesting at Sandhills Community College on Saturday morning. They're concerned the college has abruptly stopped posting banners that had been used in the past to celebrate diversity.

Normally at this time of year, Matthew Dial of Pinehurst says the banners on the light poles at Sandhills Community College are replaced with banners celebrating Native American Heritage Month.

"I always looked forward to seeing those banners on campus for Native American Heritage Month, and knowing that my heritage matters that the institution recognized that," Dial said.

But after five years, Dial said that the new tradition has come to an end. Meeting minutes from June show the college's board of trustees changed policies to restrict the kinds of banners and flags that can be posted on campus. SCC policy says the banners must promote education, athletics, or its performing arts programs. Now people on campus say they've noticed other traditional banners celebrating diversity like ones for Pride Month and Hispanic Heritage Month haven't been posted in recent months since either.

"I don't like that. Everybody should be created equal and I love these months where it's National Heritage Month--especially Native Americans. I'm Native American. So, it would be nice to see that at colleges," Katie Rogers said, a Sandhills Community College alumna.

"There's never been an open discussion as to why it was necessary for these banners to be removed," Dial said.

Dial said he is organizing a protest Saturday at 10 AM by the college's student center to draw awareness and demand action. Meanwhile, the college president Dr. Alexander Stewart says that while those cultural flags are no longer being posted up front because of the new policy, the college will still celebrate its diversity.

"They're will be educational programs and I believe the college has reached out to the Lumbee tribe to take part in that and so there is a schedule of activities from throughout the month," he said.

ABC11 is still waiting for a response from the college's board of trustees on why the changes were made.