On Friday April 25, dozens of students gathered in front of Converse Hall to demand more severe sanctions for students found responsible for sexual assault at the College, holding signs with messages like “0.00% of rapists have been kicked out of Amherst in the last 20 years” and “Is Laptop Theft Worse Than Rape? Amherst Says Yes,” arguing that despite the progress of the past six months the College still has a long way to go.
Many students have perceived a dramatic increase in the number of parties shut down for noise complaints, overcrowding, the presence of alcohol and various other reasons this year over previous years, but according to John Carter, Chief of the Amherst College Police, this perception is not supported by the facts. Only four more student gatherings were shut down this year compared to the same time period (July to April) last year, an increase from 142 to 146.
On Monday night, students, faculty, staff and administrators met in the Red Room to discuss the possibility of changing the College’s mascot, Lord Jeff, in order to distance the College from Lord Jeffery Amherst’s genocidal legacy. The meeting — which was organized by Risalat Khan ’13, a Senator in the Association of Amherst Students (AAS), included a historical presentation by Michael Kelly, Head of Archives and Special Collections and a town hall–discussion between attendees.
In order to help alleviate housing pressures created by the ongoing construction of the new science center and give students more flexible housing options, the College is offering up to 60 members of the Class of 2014 in good academic and disciplinary standing off-campus housing at the Alpine Commons apartment complex on Belchertown Road.
Last week two public meetings were held to address the content of the report released by the Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct (SMOC). On Tuesday Feb. 5, President Carolyn “Biddy” Martin hosted a meeting in Johnson Chapel with Prof. Margaret Hunt, Chair of the Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct, and Gina Smith of Ballard Spahr LLP to discuss the Oversight Committee’s report with the broader campus community.
Last Friday, Winter Storm Nemo dumped snow on New England when two low-pressure systems combined to create heavy precipitation and hurricane-force winds. Amherst received 20 inches of snow between Friday night and Saturday morning, closing all college offices after 12:00 p.m., canceling many athletics games and leaving students snowbound after the 4:00 p.m. travel ban.
Last Wednesday, Jan. 30, the Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct released a report to the College community analyzing the problem of sexual misconduct on campus and reviewing policies and procedures for handling cases of sexual misconduct. The report, titled Towards a Culture of Respect, concluded with a list of over 60 recommendations aimed at improving the College’s ability to prevent sexual violence and build a culture of respect on campus.