The school initially tried to cancel its contract to host the Sons of Confederate Veterans conference in March, but was forced to backtrack on the advice of its lawyers.
A South Carolina college is hosting a Confederate history event—but has banned the Confederate flag from being displayed.
York Technical College entered into a contract leasing space on campus to the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) for a convention in March 2017, and almost immediately after the information became public knowledge the school fell under intense scrutiny.
“They have to get our permission to display anything and we won’t allow them to display…the Confederate flag.”
According to The Herald, the area NAACP chapter and other local citizens expressed concern that the Confederate flag would be publicly displayed and create controversy, arguing that a public institution should not agree to host any group that promotes the banner.
York Tech responded to the complaints by announcing that it had cancelled its contract with the SCV during a press conference Monday, only to reverse itself on the advice of its attorneys.
“The law tells us that we cannot control the views of those who rent from us, no matter how disgusting we might believe those views to be,” York Tech president Dr. Greg Rutherford conceded at the conference, though he also outlined a way of skirting that obligation, saying the school would exercise its rights as landlord to prohibit the display of any Confederate flag or related symbol on campus during the SCV convention.
“They have to get our permission to display anything and we won’t allow them to display things that we don’t want them to display, to wit the Confederate flag for sure,” explained Dr. Marc Tarplee, the school’s vice president for business services. “We’ll see what else they come up with. If that means some of their vendors can’t come, then that’s the way it will be.”
Local NAACP leaders were also at the conference, and assured the crowd they would be seeking legal counsel.
Member Jacques Days said the NAACP would hold York Tech accountable to its promise of prohibiting Confederate flags, but he also told the crowd there is still a possibility York Tech would not have to actually honor the contract, though he did not specify how that might be accomplished.
Days emphasized that the NAACP’s goal is to completely stop the convention from happening, citing the Confederate flag’s status as a symbol of “divisive history” and “division, racism, and hatred.”
Rutherford, for his part, seemed resigned to the likelihood that York Tech would ultimately be compelled to honor its contractual obligations, saying he just hopes to put the incident behind him.
“We will be their landlord for a Friday and a Saturday, March 17 and 18,” he concluded ruefully, “and the sooner it’s done and over, the better for me and all of us.”