I graduated from Hampshire College in May of 1992. I had graduated from St. Paul School for Girls high school, so Hampshire College was a change, but a welcome one that I embraced. I was encouraged to follow my interests, to design my own path. I took this seriously, and in four years I took courses at all 5 colleges, especially Smith and Amherst. I studied abroad for a semester in London. I spent my first half of my Div III traveling the country working with an incredible company, for whom I went to work with after graduation.
I have always felt that Hampshire College was an exceptional home for those rebellious souls filled with new ideas, lots of energy and ambition.
It is also attractive to students who don’t have a clue what they want to do… and I always felt sorry for these students, because they learn the hard way that no one is there to keep them from doing nothing and wasting their parents’ money. But, for the most part, Hampshire College students are extremely passionate, curious, thirsty, ignorantly indignant, and easy to spark into activism. The student body – despite what its reputation suggests – was, and is, made up of an eclectic spectrum of every race, creed, sexual preference, financial background, culture, and even political values! Being an alum of Hampshire College at times has made me proud. Other times, it has made me wince. I’m wincing now…
I do not agree with what these students did to the flag at all. It strikes me as incredibly stupid, thoughtless, and selfish. I doubt these few students who are actually responsible took a moment to think about how their actions would affect fellow students – including alums and the entire college’s reputation around the country and world. I don’t think the school should be punished, but I wouldn’t mind the students responsible for the flag burning being punished in a way the school finds adequate.
I have been told recently not to let people know I am an alum until this “blows over.” Well, as an alum from Hampshire College, this isn’t what I do.
I speak my mind, and hopefully I am open for the debate that follows. I have been waiting for my shade of the Hampshire spectrum to be represented in this debate, but am tired of waiting.
I love the symbolism of the American flag. I am humbled and awe-struck by individuals who join any aspect of the military, no matter the reason. I am too afraid to join, and their courage and convictions blow me away. I appreciate values from both Republican and Democratic parties, as well as other third-parties. I make enough money to be in the single-digit percentile of the global earners. My extended family consists of other Hampshire alums, many alums from Harvard and Yale, and also quite a few Texas rednecks who thought a high school diploma was just fine.
To the small group of Hampshire students who did this, I say: If you want to burn a flag, then go buy your own and burn it on your own property. But, don’t burn my flag, or the flag that stands for a collective group of people.
You do not represent me anymore than you believe the flag doesn’t represent you. In fact, do you see the hypocrisy of your actions? Your act was in fact the very thing you were fighting against, that of a few entitled people believing they represent many. If I had been there, I would have wanted to stop you. Can you imagine the damage that could have been caused? Your actions could have escalated quickly to a serious life or death situation causing serious damage to property.
Find your own flag. Don’t burn mine.
And, to anyone reading this who didn’t go to Hampshire College, be clear on this point: I am not hiding from my resume as a Hampshire Alum. This blog post is what Hampshire alums do.
We speak our minds and stand for what we believe in, especially with each other. I am proud to have gone to Hampshire. I received an excellent education. I look forward for this moment in Hampshire’s history to pass.