Administration Addresses "All Lives Matter"
Issue   |   Wed, 10/29/2014 - 01:24

Following the screening of the film “Fruitvale Station” at the Multicultural Resource Center on Monday, Oct. 20, members of the college community found posters for Black Lives Matter Awareness Week replaced by posters advocating against abortion, using the slogan “All Lives Matter.”

In a college-wide email, President Biddy Martin directly addressed the incident and called for an appropriate forum to further discuss the topic.

“Over the next few weeks, I will ask a group of students, faculty and staff to help develop a forum, to decide what would make an appropriate venue for informed, open, and inclusive discussions that benefit us all,” Martin wrote in the email.

Martin said in a separate email interview that since her statement to the community, many faculty, staff and students have expressed interest in facilitating more discussions on campus.

“I hope more people will come forward to help us create opportunities for ongoing conversation and education,” Martin said.

“As planning proceeds for more campus-wide discussion, I will make sure the entire campus is kept informed and invited to contribute.”

The day following the incident, the Black Lives Matter student group met with Provost Peter Uvin and Dean of Student Alex Vasquez in the Multicultural Resource Center to discuss the All Lives Matter posters and their message.

Briana Wiggins ’15, a member of the Black Lives Matter organization, said the group had not anticipated such an immediate and strong support and solidarity from the college.

“As a senior who wants to see this place at least going in the right direction once I leave, that was very comforting: to have them meet with us so quickly, to have the response back from Biddy so quickly, to have faculty members show up and show support either in the classroom, at the vigil, or by email just showing that they care,” Wiggins said. “They understand we’re going through difficult times and we don’t have to go through it alone.”

The people behind the All Lives Matter campaign have not made a public comment or revealed their identities.

The Departments of Black Studies, Anthropology and Sociology, Political Science, American Studies, Psychology, and Sexuality, Women and Gender Studies have voiced their public support for the Black Lives Matter student group in letters to the community and to The Amherst Student.

The Department of Black Studies has written to “voice unwavering support for the campaign and affirm a commitment to racial justice and raising consciousness about matters of race not only in the classroom, but on this campus more widely and in our surrounding community.” The Department of Anthropology and Sociology has added “that conversation, while important, is only one step in a process that must result in ongoing and well-funded institutional initiatives regarding race on campus, similar to what has resulted from the College’s response to the recent controversies over sexual assault.”