Local mayor challenges Hampshire College to restore flag

Hampshire College has been embroiled in controversy ever since its president elected to remove the American flag from campus, and now the local mayor is challenging him to reverse course.

Hampshire president Jonathan Lash has faced intense criticism for announcing that he would temporarily remove the American flag from its place on campus because of “the current environment of escalating hate-based violence,” adding that removing the flag would allow the school to “focus our efforts on addressing racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and behaviors.”

After being reported by Campus Reform, the backlash against the school’s decision became the subject of nationwide media attention, and particularly caught the interest of the mayor of nearby Springfield, Massachusetts, who appeared on Fox News Tuesday to discuss his opposition to the move.

“I just think they should show the proper respect to our veterans,” Mayor Domenic Sarno explained. “Again, veterans have given their blood, sweat, and tears in order for people to lead the lives they want to lead—whether good or bad or we agree with it—that opportunity is not available to them in other countries.”

[RELATED: Hundreds of veterans protest removal of American flag at Hampshire College]

“Show the proper respect to our flag. Show the proper respect to our veterans,” he continued, noting that while he has not “been in direct contact with” Lash, he remains hopeful that Lash will “change and readjust [his] position on this.”

Later that evening, however, Sarno’s office announced via the city’s Facebook page that he will in fact meet with Lash in an effort to convince him to bring the American flag back to campus.

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

“Mayor Sarno looks forward to having a productive phone conversation with Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash on Thursday morning,” the statement reads. “He hopes to resolve their ongoing situation regarding the American flag by getting it flying again on campus, and look[s] to it as a teaching moment.”

Campus Reform reached out to Sarno’s communications director for additional comment on the matter, specifically inquiring about the details of their conversation, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski