Flags across all IU campuses are lowered to half-staff following the direction of the U.S. president or the Indiana governor.
Tom Morrison, vice president for Capital Planning and Facilities for IU, said there are many events in which there would be direction to lower the flags, including the death of a community member or a solemn holiday. For example, on Oct. 18, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Colin Powell, passed away from COVID-19. American flags were ordered to be flown at half-staff.
“Those orders are issued periodically, sometimes for the death of someone in service to the country or who has had service to the state or the country,” Morrison said.
Morrison said the procedure is the same every time there is an order to fly flags at half-staff. His office receives an email either from the president’s office or the governor's office. The order is then distributed to facility and operations staff across the university, he said.
“Indiana University doesn't necessarily decide when we lower the flags,” Morrison said. “That is something that comes in a protocol order, and we follow flag protocol very closely.”
Building Services Division manager Ronald L. English said in an email the flags on IU-Bloomington’s campus are located in these areas: between Bryan and Franklin Hall, Cramer Hall, Alumni Hall, 408 N. Union St., Service Building and a warehouse on campus, located at 190 E. Ellis Road.
Morrison said the process doesn’t happen instantaneously. It is possible for an order to come in during the night. It could be that one campus is ordered to lower its flags, but not another campus, Morrison said.
“My office, we oversee all of the campuses in terms of their space,” Morrison said. “It may be that we get an order to lower the flags in South Bend, for our South Bend campus, but not here in Bloomington, or vice versa.”
Morrison said the act of lowering the flags is a powerful and solemn thing. It is done to honor someone or an event and should be taken seriously, he said. His office does everything in its power to do it correctly, he said.
“Because of the nature of that recognition, it’s very solemn,” Morrison said. “Nobody wants to do it wrong. Every once and a while, we have a case come up where it may be obvious that the flags ought to be lowered for some particular purpose, but we wait for the order to come.”