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Hampshire College Flies Flag Again After 'Toxic Circus,' President Says03:38
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Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. (Courtesy of Hampshire College)
Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. (Courtesy of Hampshire College)
This article is more than 2 years old.

After receiving nationwide attention for removing the U.S. flag from campus, the flag is again flying at the Hampshire College campus as of Friday morning.

The flag was lowered to half staff after the presidential election. Then the flag was found burned, and the college decided to take down all campus flags after that.

Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash joined Morning Edition to explain the school's decision to raise the flag Friday morning.


Interview Highlights

On why the flag is back

JL: "Our objective had been to create an opportunity for an important discussion about racism and justice and underlying values that are important to this campus and, I think, to this nation. And to remove a symbol that was controversial for our community. In fact, the reaction to lowering the flag had become something of a toxic circus, and rather than facilitating that discussion ... it became a distraction."

"And frankly, besides that, we were getting so many graphic, threatening calls and emails that I just felt it was safer to put the flag back up — which we'd always intended to do at some point — and continue the discussion with it up."

On safety concerns following the school's decision to take the flag down

"We have gotten thousands and thousands of emails and calls and some of them contain very explicit threats to members of our staff. It ought to be possible to exercise free speech without that happening, but it wasn't in this instance."

On what makes the flag controversial on campus

"There are many people in the Hampshire College community for whom the flag represents their highest aspirations of freedom and justice, but there are others who grew up victims of racism and injustice for whom it is a symbol of a system that has been repressive. ..."

This segment aired on December 2, 2016.

Earlier:

Deborah Becker Twitter Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.

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