Beloved Class Flags Restored

Class Flags in Library Atrium

The class flags have helped students navigate to the “correct” side of the staircase.
(Photo by Mary Stettner)

In case you didn’t see the buzz on social media or hear about it through the grapevine, the removal of the beloved class flags in Williston Library was a source of great distress for students last fall. For the past two decades, students have referred to the colorful, silk flags—handmade and installed in 1993 by artist Pat Hayes—for guidance on which side of the central staircase to walk up.

But after twenty years, the handmade flags were showing their age, each starting to tear under its own weight. The four flags were removed over the summer and, following student protest, were replaced with paper signs in hopes of appeasing the superstitious. Though there is no official record in the College archives, popular legend has it that if a student doesn’t take the side of the staircase with her class flag on it, she won’t graduate.

Upon learning how much the flags have come to mean to students and alumnae, the Alumnae Association donated funds to have them restored, and the theatre department’s costume shop manager, Elaine Bergeron, was appointed to carry out the vital task. With help from students, Bergeron extensively researched the best approach for the flags’ restoration. To fix the “shattering”—or broken—silk fibers, she employed the time-consuming method of applying very thin layers of adhesive and fusing them to the existing backing. After the lengthy repair process is complete, the flags will be returned to their rightful spots later this winter.

—By Lauren Kodiak

This article appeared in the winter 2014 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.

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