AMHERST (CBS) – The American flag is flying once again at Hampshire College in Amherst.
The school’s president, Jonathan Lash, made the announcement Friday morning.
Hampshire College decided to stop flying the U.S. flag in the center of campus last month after it was burned on Veterans Day. The school had earlier lowered that flag to half-staff after Donald Trump was elected president.
Veterans led a vocal group of opponents who protested the move online and at a rally on campus last Sunday.
“We were trying to create a space for an important discussion about race and justice, issues that are of great importance on our campus, but I think nationally as well. The backlash against the decision to lower the flag became kind of a toxic circus and, rather than enabling the discussion, has tended to drown it out,” Lash told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Friday.
“We recognized that in order to do what we want to do, it probably made more sense to put the flag back up and that’s what we’ve done, at dawn this morning.”
Lash said, “For us, it is flying to represent justice and freedom.”
“The protest is fully within people’s rights who disagree with us. It got beyond that. We were deluged with very ugly and very concrete threats. We were hacked into and our services got down, people received threatening phone calls. It seemed to me that we ought to be able to exercise free speech rights without death threats and home invasions by Fox News.”
Lash has regrets about the decision to take the flag down.
“What we did was very important to the school and to a set of values. In the end, I think we caused a lot of pain to people who legitimately hold the flag as a representation of their highest aspirations and it ended up with a situation in which people at the school were feeling genuinely threatened. Those weren’t consequences I expected.”
Lash also clarified that there was never a campus-wide ban on flags, which was initially reported.
“There were American flags being flown by individuals around the campus. We just took down the institutional flag at the center of the campus,” he told WBZ.
“We will certainly fly other flags. We’ll probably put up a second flag pole to fly flags that reflect Hampshire’s values.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker reports