Massachusetts’ Hampshire College has removed the American flag from campus until further notice, citing the flag’s status as a “divisive symbol” that has emerged as a focal point for anger over Donald Trump’s election as president, The Boston Globe is reporting.
Like almost every other college and university in the United States, Hampshire College has, or had, until last week, at least one or more American flags flying over the campus. However, following the election, Hampshire College President Johnathan Lash announced on Facebook that the Board of Trustees had voted to lower flags around campus to half-staff to symbolically mourn Trump’s win.
“Some months ago, the Hampshire College Board of Trustees adopted a policy of periodically flying the flag at half-staff to mourn deaths from violence around the world. Last week, in the current environment of escalating hate-based violence, we made the decision to fly Hampshire’s U.S. flag at half-staff for a time while the community delved deeper into the meaning of the flag and its presence on our campus.”
— Larry Kelley (@amherstac) November 20, 2016
That move appeared not to have been good enough for someone; a short time later, on the day before Veteran’s Day, The Blaze notes, somebody burned the flag.
Hillary & her childish voters don’t get it. Your burning of the USA flag is why Trump won. That same flag is used to burry our fallen. pic.twitter.com/8igjfJGQPj
— JP MOORE (REAL) (@Democrat_4Trump) November 12, 2016
Now, Lash and Hampshire College’s trustees have deemed that the flag is a “divisive symbol,” and they have made the decision to remove it from campus indefinitely. The earliest it will be back is next semester, he said.
“[We will] focus our efforts on addressing racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and behaviors.”
Not everyone at Hampshire College is on board with the idea of removing the flag from campus. Amherst student Shamtum Jha, in remarks made available via WISH-TV (Indianapolis), said that lowering the flag to half-staff started a chain of events that ended with the flag’s removal from campus. The whole controversy could have been avoided, Jha says, if the flag had just been left at full-staff, as it usually is.
“Well to be honest, the flag should not have been lowered in the first place, because that just shows outright intolerance for what has happened.”
It is not clear, as of this writing, if the American flag has been completely banned from the Hampshire campus – meaning, that students or faculty risk punishment for displaying it on their walls or on their persons.
Hampshire College has not been the only college or university in America to have been the site of flag protests since Trump’s election, according to The Washington Post.
- At Brown University in Rhode Island, students “stomped on and tore up” flags at a ceremony honoring veterans.
- At American University in Washington, DC, students burned flags and shouted “F**k white America!”
- In Mary’s City, Maryland, a city flag was found lowered to half-staff and shredded. Police later determined that two St. Mary’s College students were responsible.
While burning the American flag is a controversial (to put it mildly) form of protest, it is legal in all 50 states due to the Supreme Court having determined that doing so is protected free speech. However, that does not mean that you can burn an American flag that isn’t your own, and removing one from a flagpole and then shredding or burning it can be prosecuted as a property crime, such as vandalism or larceny.
Do you think Hampshire College made the right decision by removing the American flag from campus until further notice?
[Featured Image by Emily Marie Wilson/Shutterstock]