American flags, patriotism now triggering college students

American flags, patriotism now triggering college students
Image: Thomas Shanahan/Shutterstock

States and municipalities have pulled down the Confederate flag to avoid hurt feelings, but now Old Glory is under attack, this time from college students triggered by the flag’s association with the Nov. 8 election results.

Since Donald Trump was elected president, college students across the country have mourned, protested and walked out of classrooms in despair. Unable to cope with someone getting elected whom they disagree with, these college snowflakes have begun taking their frustration and fear out on the American flag and patriotism.

Hampshire College

Hampshire College in Massachusetts will stop flying the American flag — or any other flag — until campus discussions are held about what the flag means to different groups of students.

After Trump won the election, Hampshire lowered the school’s American flag to half-staff. In a campus-wide email, Hampshire President Jonathan Lash said the College Board of Trustees adopted a policy to occasionally lower the flag to half-staff to mourn deaths from around the world, similar to what most businesses and government agencies do after a tragedy or a notable death. Hampshire, however, decided to fly its flag at half-staff after the election in what appeared to some as an insult due to Trump’s win.

Lash said in his statement the flag was lowered “while the community delved deeper into the meaning of the flag and its presence on our campus.” He said it “was meant as an expression of grief over the violent deaths being suffered in this country and globally, including the many U.S. service members who have lost their lives.”

That was not how many members of the community, particularly veterans and their families,  saw the decision. “Some have perceived the action of lowering the flag as a commentary on the results of the presidential election — this, unequivocally, was not our intent,” Lash said. It was also seen as disrespectful to the traditional reasons for lowering the flag.

While the flag was lowered, someone set it on fire, although it is unclear what reason the culprit had for burning the flag.

Hampshire has decided to hold discussions about what the flag represents. In a statement to Watchdog, Hampshire spokesman John Courtmanche explained some of the different viewpoints members of the community had about the flag.

“We’ve heard from members of our community that, for them and for many in our country, the flag is a powerful symbol of fear they’ve felt all their lives because they grew up as people of color, never feeling safe,” he wrote in an email. “For others, it’s a symbol of their highest aspirations for the country.”

Courtmanche said the college would continue to hold discussions in the coming weeks.

Brown University

Last week, American flags at Brown University in Rhode Island were torn down and damaged after they were hung for the school’s Veterans Day ceremony. Though the vandalism was the work of some Brown students, other students stepped in to replant the flags that had been removed and to protect the flags going forward.

In a statement to the Brown community, President Christina Paxson said she was “appalled” at the destruction of the flags and that the vandalism was “a violation of Brown’s Code of Student Conduct, and students found responsible for code violations are subject to sanctions.”

She also said she was “proud” of the students who defended the flags, and insisted those who committed the destruction did “not represent the views of more than 9,000 students who study at Brown.”

Some members of the Brown community, however, agreed with those who damaged the flags. In a now-deleted Facebook post on the page Brown Bears Admirers — a page where Brown students post anonymous comments (mostly about who they have crushes on, apparently) — one student praised those who tore down the flags.

“I’d like to appreciate everyone who has been removing the flags from the Main Green,” the original post said. “As much as I know that these flags are there to represent Veterans Day, when I look at them, all I feel is overwhelming nausea, and all I see is a symbol of the oppressing white nationalism that has jeopardized myself and so many others at Brown and abroad.”

After the vandalism, in an apparent counter-protest over the flag removal, a group of 10 to 12 vehicles drove near campus, blaring their horns, displaying the American flag, and playing the national anthem. Brian E. Clark, Brown’s director of news and editorial development, told Watchdog the vehicles were on public streets that intersect the Brown campus, but did not try to access the actual campus.

Still, some Brown students were distraught over the display.

Elisabeth Hubbard posted on the Facebook group Resist Hate RI that the vehicles “noisily circled several times and then sped off like cowards,” and added that she “just witnessed a horrible act of intimidation.”

Katherine Jimenez told the Brown Daily Herald that the protest “felt incredibly intimidating” and “felt very white nationalist and alt-right.” Those last two phrases have become buzzwords during the 2016 election. Jimenez claimed those driving the cars were white.

When asked if she also felt the initial flag vandalism was also “intimidating,” Jimenez told Watchdog that the act felt very intolerant.”

“My cousin recently enlisted, so Veterans Day feels very different to me now,” Jimenez said. “I’ve always felt very thankful for those who have put and are putting their lives on the line in order for citizens like me to live in a great country. Now that day feels even more special.”

She added: “It’s one thing to feel anger or very great emotions toward an American flag, but it’s also respect and understanding context. It’s about understanding that this was something meant for Veterans — they do deserve to be remembered and celebrated.”

Loyola University Maryland

Emails obtained and confirmed by the Daily Caller showed staff and student government members at Loyola University Maryland attempted to change the theme of a school party because it might be “very alienating, divisive and harmful.”

The theme of the party was “Party in the USA,” but in the wake of Trump’s election, many students are now associating patriotism with hate.

The party, put on by the senior class and called the Senior 200s, was a costume party held on Nov. 18 as part of a series of events that serve as a countdown to graduation. The theme was chosen by members of the senior class long before the election, but that didn’t stop students and campus administrators from expressing concerns before and after the election.

One Student Government Association member wrote that “if Trump wins it will be bad.” Another wanted to change the theme because they disagreed with Trump’s policies.

Susan Donovan, Loyola’s executive vice president, urged students to “reconsider” the theme.

“We have made progress in providing a welcoming climate on campus, and do we want to reverse that progress with a theme that divides us?” she wrote.

Donovan did not respond to a Watchdog inquiry about how celebrating America would “divide” the campus.

Sheilah Horton, Loyola’s vice president for student development, wrote that the theme “provides an opportunity for students to dress or behave in a way that offends or oppresses others.”

Horton did not respond to a Watchdog inquiry about how dressing patriotically and celebrating America would offend or oppress others.

Horton also worried the party would cause problems for the administration. By all accounts there were no issues with the party, which occurred as planned.

Nick Alexopulos, Loyola’s associate director of media relations, told Watchdog in an email that the university “supports and seeks events like this one where students celebrate their Loyola pride and our nation.”

He added Loyola leadership contacted the SGA “after learning some students and faculty expressed concern that there would be costumes that would be offensive — especially troubling at a time when so many are feeling anxious and uncertain.”

In addition, Alexopulos acknowledged that Donovan and Horton had contacted the SGA to suggest they “reconsider the timing of the theme,” or, if they kept the theme, “consider a plan to ensure it would be welcoming to all in attendance.” The SGA decided to keep the theme, but contacted the senior class to address the concerns.

“Loyola University Maryland is proud of our students for recognizing that this was an opportunity to strengthen a community where everyone feels welcomed, included, and supported,” Alexopulos wrote. “We continue to work as a university to ensure all student viewpoints are respected and heard, and we hope students continue to find ways to have constructive dialogue around the most important issues of our time.”

Cross-posted from Watchdog.org/Ashe Schow

LU Staff

LU Staff

Promoting and defending liberty, as defined by the nation’s founders, requires both facts and philosophical thought, transcending all elements of our culture, from partisan politics to social issues, the workings of government, and entertainment and off-duty interests. Liberty Unyielding is committed to bringing together voices that will fuel the flame of liberty, with a dialogue that is lively and informative.


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