After a week of controversy surrounding its US flag, Hampshire College opted to do away with it—only to invite more controversy. In a move that first generated anger, students at the Massachusetts liberal arts school lowered the school flag to half-mast a day after Donald Trump became president-elect, reports CNN. Tensions only grew as unknown individuals lit the flag on fire on Nov. 10. The flag was replaced and flown at full-staff on Veterans Day, but more were offended when it returned to half-mast afterward, reports the Washington Post. Hoping to "remove the conflict over the symbol and get to the real issues underneath," Hampshire College announced on Nov. 18 that it would stop flying the US flag for an "indefinite period," per WWLP.
In a Monday Facebook post, President Jonathan Lash explained that the college has a policy of "periodically flying the flag at half-staff to mourn deaths from violence around the world," and that in "the current environment of escalating hate-based violence," the lengthier half-staff decision was made. "This was meant as an expression of grief over the violent deaths being suffered in this country and globally, including the many US service members who have lost their lives." The school was trying to create dialogue, he says, while noting a move that was intended to "inclusively convey respect and sorrow have had the opposite effect," hence the decision to leave the flagpole empty. State Rep. John Velis, however, says total removal of the flag "is baseless, cowardly, a disgrace," a sentiment seconded by many on social media.