- The Washington Times - Friday, December 2, 2016

The American flag once again flies over Hampshire College.

A tumultuous November in Amherst, Massachusetts, that involved stolen and burned American flags may be followed by a calmer December.

Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash announced Friday that a moratorium on flying the flag has ended. The decision comes less than one week since roughly 1,000 veterans descended upon the campus to protest the flag’s absence.

“This morning we raised the United States flag to full staff at Hampshire College after a two-week discussion period about what the flag means to members of the Hampshire community,” Mr. Lash said on the school’s website. “College leadership, including the board of trustees, had decided on November 18 to lower the flag for a time to encourage uninhibited expression of deeply held viewpoints.”

“We are alarmed by the overt hate and threats, especially toward people in marginalized communities, which have escalated in recent weeks. We did not lower the flag to make a political statement. Nor did we intend to cause offense to veterans, military families, or others for whom the flag represents service and sacrifice. We acted solely to facilitate much-needed dialogue on our campus about how to dismantle the bigotry that is prevalent in our society. We understand that many who hold the flag as a powerful symbol of national ideals and their highest aspirations for the country — including members of our own community — felt hurt by our decisions, and that we deeply regret.”

Hampshire College attracted national attention earlier this month after Republican Donald Trump’s presidential election victory on Nov. 8. The school’s flag was stolen and a replacement was burned before dawn on Veterans Day.

The situation spiraled completely out of control when administrators decided to fly the flag at half-staff as “an expression of grief over the violent deaths being suffered in this country and globally.”

A throng of veterans arrived on campus Nov. 27 to condemn the school’s actions.

“I was in Iraq 18 months. I got hurt, spent time at Walter Reed. I came home and there’s no way I’ll let anyone take down the flag, no way. It means a lot to me and my brothers,” veteran David Soucy told a local NBC affiliate.

Mr. Lash said Friday that he would continue to have “multiple focus group sessions” with students, faculty, and staff who have questions about the flag.

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