A Central Washington University student has been arrested after being accused of stealing and burning the school’s LGBTQ+ Pride flag and posting it online, according to officials.
In a letter from university president Jim Wohlpart, officials confirmed that the LGBTQ+ Pride flag outside the student recreation center was stolen Wednesday and burned while being filmed for social media.
“This is an appalling act of hate against the LGBTQ+ community,” the letter states.
University officials said a CWU student was arrested and will undergo the student conduct process, NBC Right Now reported.
A new Pride flag was put up Thursday afternoon, school officials said, according to the publication.
The letter also mentions support for students, faculty and staff, including counseling resources.
“We are greatly disturbed that our CWU LGBTQ+ community had to endure this violation of their identity; this act diminished all of us,” Wohlpart wrote. “This is especially true during Pride month when many LGBTQ+ CWU students, faculty and staff celebrate and memorialize their communities and commemorate the Stonewall Riots.
“We will not tolerate these types of actions that reduce the identity of others, make them feel unwelcome, and decrease their sense of safety and belonging.”
CWU police said Thursday that they arrested the person responsible.
“We take these crimes very seriously and will not rest until a corrective outcome is achieved. This is another example of how we depend on the support and trust of our community to achieve a safe and secure learning environment,” authorities wrote in a Facebook post.
More than 1,700 people have signed a petition demanding consequences for the student accused of burning the flag.
“While I am not asking for this to be pursued in a court of law, I am asking that there are academic consequences for this action, be it removal of scholarship money, suspension, or expulsion,” the organizer of the petition wrote. ”This is a heinous act and there must be consequences for his actions if this school wants to promote a safe environment for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”