Don't speak to media, Hampshire begs students

Hampshire College is cracking down on free expression after veterans protested its decision to remove the American flag from campus, forcing activists to petition the White House for redress.

On the eve of Veteran’s Day, Hampshire students upset over Donald Trump’s election burned an American flag that had been lowered to half-staff on a campus flagpole, prompting a national controversy that was only inflamed by the school’s response.

[RELATED: American flag lowered, burned in response to election]

While Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash initially expressed disappointment with the students, he also announced that he would not be replacing the flag, asserting that the decision would help to “focus our efforts on addressing racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and behaviors.”

[RELATED: College ditches Old Glory after flag-burning incident]

In response, hundreds of veterans and local residents held a protest on campus over the weekend to demand that the banner be restored, with many demonstrators suggesting that the college should have its federal funding withheld until it complies.

Now, Lash has issued another ukase, this time decreeing that “no protestors [sic] will be allowed to come on campus” and that “media are prohibited from speaking directly to students.”

Campus police will also have an increased presence on campus to ensure both compliance and student safety, he continued, adding that the administration would also “monitor social media about any other events that are planned and report any concerns to campus police.”

Outside groups and individuals may continue to demonstrate near campus, but the college is requiring that all such events "be contained along Route 116."

“It’s discouraging to hear Jonathan Lash make an announcement to not talk to the media.” A student from Hampshire College told Campus Reform. “In order for Hampshire to be heard during this time, it’s important students speak out against what’s happening. It’s important we stand up for our school. It’s important to not let the radical minority be the only voice heard during this time.”

This student has asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, but others have found a way around Hampshire’s restrictive policies, creating a White House petition to “remove all federal funding from Hampshire College until they choose to fly the American Flag on their campus.”

The petition had secured nearly 2,000 signatures by press time, still far short of the 100,000 that it needs by Christmas in order to elicit a presidential statement.

“It is our belief that the school should not receive tax dollars in any form,” the petition reads. “They have chosen to step away from our country in a very bold and clear statement. As such they should not receive support from the country they no longer are choosing to support.”

MassLive reports that students attending Hampshire College receive $7.2 million in federal funding, which accounts for about 14.6 percent of the school’s net $64 million in revenue, and that the school also received $690,386 in federal grants during FY 2014.

Follow the authors of this article on Twitter: @amber_athey and @kassydillon