'Appalling act of hate': CWU student steals Pride flag from SURC, recorded lighting it on fire for social media

ELLENSBURG, Wash. - A Central Washington University (CWU) student stole a Pride flag from school's student union building, and lit it on fire while filming on social media, university officials confirmed Thursday.

According to university officials, that student was arrested and will go through the student conduct process. University officials said a new Pride flag would be displayed.

"This is an appalling act of hate against the LGBTQ+ community," CWU President Jim Wohlpart, who started his tenure on June 7, said.

The university's police department posted on Facebook, saying: "CWU Police would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to the Wildcat Community for all the information and tips that allowed us to successfully investigate and apprehend the suspect responsible for the theft and burning of CWU Diversity Center's pride flag."

The post went on to say that the department won't rest until a "corrective outcome is achieved."

Right now, a petition surfacing on social media is calling on the university to give the student consequences.

"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 petition says.

In that petition, the organizer said the student's name has been redacted because "it's not petty drama" but "a criminal case and throwing around names to stir up drama isn't necessary."

As of Saturday afternoon, the petition has more than 2,500 signatures.

"We are greatly disturbed that our CWU LGBTQ+ community had to endure this violation of their identity; this act diminished all of us," Wolhpart said. "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."

For six of the last seven years, CWU has been named one of the top schools for increasing diversity on campus. 

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.