AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Hampshire College has decided not to fly a U.S. flag. Hampshire College in Amherst decided to lower the flag after the election, then it was burned, and now it’s been removed altogether.
It’s a story that’s provoking emotional responses from students and professors. “Burning the flag was a really stupid thing to do,” said Gerald Freidman, an economics professor at UMass Amherst. “The flag is our flag. It stands for freedom. It stands for equality.”
Signed by FDR in 1942, the U.S. Flag code is federal law, but in practice it is more of a guideline.
Paul Collins, the Director of Legal Studies at UMass Amherst said, “The flag code is about how to respect the flag and how to properly display it and destroy it. The government does not really spend any effort actually enforcing it.”
“This is something that we feel that we need to do as a private college and as a private campus community to allow a campus dialogue about the flag,” said Hampshire College Spokesman John Courtmanche.
The flag code does give private institutions extra leeway in their use of the flag that public state institutions like UMass Amherst don’t have.
Ed Blaguszewski is the campus spokesman at UMass Amherst. “We follow the governor’s directive in regard to the flag which is a matter of respect,” he said.
Amherst College told 22News they follow federal guidelines. Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley and Smith College in Northampton told 22News in addition to following orders from the President and Governor, they’ve lowered the flag for the death of someone in the campus community.
“Our flag shouldn’t represent one presidency. I think it should just represent our country in general and its history and it’s future,” remarked Amherst College student Jackie Calla.
The supreme court ruled that politically motivated violations of the flag code, including burning the flag are protected as free speech.