On Tuesday, Feb. 24 in an open letter to the Amherst College community, the board of trustees voted to “not endorse divestment of the endowment from fossil fuels,” but stated their intentions to “incorporate environmental considerations into their investment decisions,” with investment managers who “thoughtfully and consistently incorporate environmental considerations into the investment process.” The board has not provided a timeline for its proposed goals.
We do not know the total number of people killed by law enforcement each year, much less the racial demographics of those victims. But we do know two things: Too many people are killed by law enforcement in the United States, and there is a widespread perception that communities of color are suffering disproportionately.
It’s fair to generalize and say that many members of the faculty, administration and student body were disappointed by the cancellation of the winter carnival. Although we all laughed at the Muck-Rake article “Winter Carnival Postponed Due to Winter,” the response mainly masked our frustration. In the current Amherst social scene, the carnivals set up by Biddy and the administration are the closest things we have to campus-wide traditions. Yet, not only can these events be undependable despite fairly predictable weather conditions, the carnivals do little to actually unite our campus.
College administrators seem caught in the idealized pursuit of a pan-Amherst conversation. To that end, there have been sweeping initiatives like the Day of Dialogue and the Ask Big Questions program. These attempts at a college-wide conversation focus on broad abstractions like “race” and “thoughtfulness” that everyone can read into because they are so ubiquitous. The effect, however, is that it is difficult for individuals to personalize and invest themselves in these generalizations.
My last article, “Debunking Myths About Racialized Police Brutality in America,” which focused on the misleading “28 Hours” mantra that is common in the Black Lives Matter movement, was quickly and publicly reduced to “yet another attempt at undercutting a movement dedicated to the equal value of white and non-white lives” (see the Amherst Soul article “My Melanin Is Not A Myth, It’s Your Nightmare”). To this I ask: What does it say about a movement if its rallying cry is undercut by a mere statement of facts — facts taken directly from the very report that inspired it, no less?
Amherst College’s admissions brochures love to tout the open curriculum. Save for the first year seminar, which has such a range of options that it can hardly be counted as a required class, we are free to explore our interests without restriction. If you hated French in high school, you can say “au revoir” to it for good here. Loved by more than enthusiastic tour guides, our open curriculum is almost universally seen as a boon for our academic careers. Before we go any further, The Amherst Student’s editorial board would like to clarify that we love the open curriculum.
In 1974, the average age American farmer was 51.7 years old. Today, after a steady increase over the past 30 years, the average farmer is 58.3 years old. Meanwhile, the number of America’s younger farmers — those below 35 years old — has plummeted from 16 percent in 1982 to a mere 5 percent in 2012. The American agricultural sector continues to age; meanwhile, fewer young folks are flocking to the fields. What is the future of America’s small farms? Hoping to answer to this question, I spoke to several farmers from the Pioneer Valley.