Society

Massachusetts College Won't Fly American Flag On Campus

| by Michael Allen

Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, is reportedly not going to fly the American flag, or any other flag, on its campus.

The college administration agreed with students to fly the American flag at half-staff the day after the presidential election, Nov. 9, to build rapport with young people and talk about the meaning of the flag, CNN reports.

However, that move upset some folks in Amherst, and on Nov. 10, an unidentified person set the flag on fire. The college got a new flag, and flew it at full-staff on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

On Nov. 12, the college trustees voted to lower the new flag to half-staff and continue talks on campus about the flag.

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On Nov. 21, school president Jonathan Lash announced on the Hampshire College Facebook page that no flags would be flown for an indefinite period of time:

...After some preliminary consultation with campus constituents (much more is needed), we decided on Friday that we will not fly the U.S. flag or any other flags on our college flagpole for the time being. We hope this will enable us in the near term to instead focus our efforts on addressing racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and behaviors.

I ask our campus to join me in a commitment to living up to the ideals of our mission: to insist on diversity, inclusion, and equity from our leaders and in our communities; to constructively resist those who are opposing these values; and to actively and passionately work toward justice and positive change at Hampshire and in the world.

The announcement stirred outrage on the school's Facebook page, and from Democratic state Rep. John Velis who told CNN: "The president's position fundamentally does not make sense to me. It is baseless, cowardly, a disgrace."

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Velis, a veteran, also wrote a letter to Lash on Nov. 22: "Do I need to remind you, Mr. President, that discussions surrounding these above groups would not even be possible if not for the sacrifices of our service members and veterans. Mr. President, put back those flags."

A protest called the "Peaceful Demonstration of Freedom-Stand with Old Glory," scheduled for Nov. 27 at Hampshire College, was posted on a Facebook event page:

In solidarity to the sacrifices of the US Military, we are asking for everyday citizens to stand guard over our American Flag, as a show of solidarity and respect to our communities Soldiers and Veterans.

Please be advised this a PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION OF FREEDOM as citizens of our United States of America, this is a demonstration. Families will be present and order is to be expected. This is an opportunity to peacefully stand for your value as a citizen and show support to the Soldiers who have served, continue to serve and the ones we have lost but have not forgotten.

Sources: CNN, Hampshire College/FacebookPeaceful Demonstration of Freedom-Stand with Old Glory/Facebook / Photo Credit: Redjar/Flickr

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