Tibetan flag disallowed from procession of Flag Bearers at UMass Commencement

By Lobsang Tenchoe

DHARAMSALA, May 4: The University of Massachusetts Amherst has turned down a Tibetan-American student’s application to carry the Tibetan Flag in the Parade of Nations Procession during its commencement ceremony.

Kalsang Nangpa, a public health major and the Chapter Leader of the UMass Amherst Students for a Free Tibet has sought permission to carry the Tibetan flag in the Parade of Nations Procession at the Commencement.

Like her brother who was turned down two years ago, she too was told four weeks later by the University that the Tibetan flag could not be flown during the ceremony as Tibet is not recognized as a country by the US Department of State.

18302526_1514257861951952_2067670440_n“The student, her family and anyone who wants to bring a flag to graduation is more than welcome. However, the flag just can’t be part of the specific procession,” UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said in a statement.

“Being a state institution and understanding various political sensitivities, we invite students from countries that appear on the U.S. Department of State list to carry their country’s flag,” Blaguszewski added.

“I was very frustrated, very angry, very disappointed in my school. You know I have a lot of pride in being a UMass Student. And coming close to graduation, I feel like UMass just disappointed me,” a dejected Kalsang Nangpa said.

Disappointed by the development, Nangpa has now started a Facebook page inviting students, the community, and even Senator Elizabeth Warren, the UMass Amherst Commencement speaker this year to ask Chancellor Subbaswamy to reverse this decision before her graduation on May 12.

“I see myself carrying the Tibetan flag. I see my family being very proud and happy. I don’t know what the outcome is going to be. I just know I want to make sure I’m doing my part in making this happen,” Kalsang states.