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Hampshire College In Amherst Stops Flying All Flags

AMHERST (CBS) -- It's been a week of flag-related controversy for Hampshire College, after the school's Board of Trustees made the decision to lower the U.S. flag on campus to half-staff in the wake of the presidential election--and then decided to remove the flag entirely after a wave of backlash.

Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Ben Parker he knows it's a controversial decision to remove the flag, but he wanted to create a dialogue among those with differing opinions about the symbol.

"There were a range of views on campus, including people whose experience growing up have made the flag a symbol of fear, which was strengthened by the toxic language during the campaign, and people for whom the flag is the symbol of all that's best throughout the country," said Lash.

Of course, that decision has created even more backlash, and Lash said there "certainly is" a lot of anger about the decision.

The plan now that the flag is down is for group discussions with faculty, staff, and students about the issues, but there is no timeline for when the flag might fly again.

"We intend to go forward with that, and then reconsider how we fly the flag going forward," Lash said.

Lash outlined the school's previous policy for lowering the flag, and why the decision to lower it is sometimes difficult.

"When President Obama ordered national flags at half-staff to recognize the victims in Paris, something we completely agreed with, there were a number of people on campus that said 'Yes, but, what about the hundreds of people being killed  by terror in Syria and Lebanon and Pakistan?' and asked that the school find some way to recognize victims globally," said Lash. "So we periodically lowered the flag to recognize victims of violence."

He said the school will focus on completing those group conversations before putting the flag back up.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Ben Parker reports


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