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After Backlash, Hampshire College Returns U.S. Flag to Campus

Hampshire College raised the American flag on its central flagpole Friday morning, following a backlash over the institution’s decision to remove it from campus in the aftermath of the election.

In a written statement, Jonathan Lash, Hampshire’s president, said the flag was raised to full staff on Friday following “a two-week discussion period about what the flag means to members of the Hampshire community.”

The flag has been the focal point of several incidents on Hampshire’s campus following the presidential election. The day after the election, students lowered the flag to half-staff, The Boston Globe reported. The next night, someone set the flag on fire.

The decision to lower the flag two weeks ago, Mr. Lash said in Friday’s statement, was made by college leaders and was meant to “encourage uninhibited expression of deeply held viewpoints.” He had previously said the flag would not return before the spring semester, the Globe reported. But criticism mounted over its removal.

In a phone call with the Globe, Mr. Lash said the institution’s phone lines had been “clogged with people calling to express their anger” and even to make threats. Protesters also gathered on Sunday to demand that the flag be returned.

“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,” Mr. Lash said in his statement. “We acted solely to facilitate much-needed dialogue on our campus about how to dismantle the bigotry that is prevalent in our society.”

Mr. Lash said that the campus had held various discussions over the past two weeks, and that such “dialogue” is a first step. “This is what free speech looks like,” he said.

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