Making A Difference
Issue   |   Wed, 10/24/2012 - 01:46

These past few days have been the moment of student journalism and expression at Amherst. Students published their accounts and expressed their points in various publications and columns. From The Student, The Indicator, AC Voice and student blogs of all kinds, the voice of students rang out for calls to action — and action came to campus in force. After Angie Epifano’s account (“An Account of Sexual Assault at Amherst College”) went viral, President Martin reached out to the Amherst community within less than 24 hours of our publication. The Trustees who had just arrived on campus received word of the shifting winds and started calls for an investigation. Student groups issued statements and began organizing, student leaders from the Five Colleges led a rally on campus while forming an organic delegation to meet with the trustees.
Within days of students reaching out through campus publications, campus discourse changed, sexual-assault interest groups made an example of Amherst College, and international news organizations looked into the inner workings of our campus. Because of students reaching out and breaking stories, the image of the College had completely changed across the world — ask any prospective college student what Amherst now means to them.

Student journalism and expression is both important, and it’s a self reinforcing cycle. For days, social media networks reblogged, retweeted and reported not only Epifano’s account, but all the related stories reported in the Amherst news grapevine, including the TDX story and the student photo project about sexual disrespect. One student’s writing about misogyny, bolstered more students to discuss their experience sexual assaults, which prompted others to come out about their own encounters with survivors or the culture at Amherst, sometimes reaching out to online national news blogs.
As we’ve noted before, The Student and other publications exist in an environment somewhat unfavorable for campus journalism — publications lack an academic department dedicated to journalism, a large student body to drawn from and meaningful administrative support. But one of the largest barriers is that students tend to be reluctant to reach out. Amherst, with its many talented and articulate writers, should not shy away from reaching out to its publications, especially if they have a particular voice that needs to be heard.

The editors and staff writers of The Student only represent a small portion of experiences and viewpoints. However, we — and every other student publication — are more than willing to offer the platform for the diverse experiences of every other student, be they about sexual assault or mental health or any other issue with campus life, culture and College administration, to be brought out in the open and spark the kind of dialogue Epifano’s and Bolger’s articles did.
Given the demonstrated effect of campus publications, disengaging from them constitutes a lost opportunity for meaningful change to occur by those who claim to seek it.

It can be difficult to attach one’s name to one’s public opinion given the intimate nature of our small campus community. But if enough students come forward, and the administration supports students' doing so by providing the environment for student engagement with their publications, students can make a change that betters Amherst for their peers and successors at Amherst, leaving a mark on the campus as they pass through.

James Herms (not verified) says:
Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:40

Angela A. Epifano’s parents are Anthony J. Epifano, 62, and Angela L. Epifano, 49, of Green Cove Springs, FL.  The father is a past Commander of the Air Force News Agency.


   “[I]n the Administration’s eyes I was the most base individual: a poor and parentless humanities major who was the school’s token-Deep-Southerner.…
   “You don’t have parents.  What are you going to do?”



   “Angela Epifano … recently received the Art Guild of Orange Park’s $1,000 scholarship award for 2010.  She plans to attend Amherst College ….
   “Her parents, Angela and Anthony Epifano, … also attended the award ceremony ….”



   “Air Force News Agency
   “Commander:  Col. Anthony J. Epifano”


Epifano, at paras. 108, 122.
Ridgeview’s Angela Epifano Earns Art Guild Scholarship, Fla. Times-Union, July 10, 2010, at M12.
Photochart of USAF Leadership, Air Force Mag., Sept. 2004, at 86, 93.

About this college president, Dr. Biddy Martin...  Has she or the Epifanos been asked to make state & federal rape-reporting project leaders look like gameplayers?  If so, who asked her to, and why now?

James K. Herms, Project Advisor
MIT Crime Club
(617) 491-6633

Rabbit (not verified) says:
Mon, 11/05/2012 - 19:31

And why do you make a different set of claims in this .pdf - saying there is identity fraud and that someone else used Angie's name? Perhaps before making these claims, it would pay to firstly be clear and be careful that any claims are well grounded, particularly if you are going to say some writing that has garnered a lot of attention could be under a a real, but false name.

It does not appear that anyone is lying or engaging in identity fraud, no where is the claim made that Angie has no parents or family in existence at all. Reading in context indicates that there has been some estrangement or that she is unsupported by her parents, with an indication of why this is so in one phrase e.g. "I had always fancied myself a strong, no-nonsense woman, whose intense independence was cultivated by seventeen harrowing years of emotional abuse in my backwoods home." This could happen in a period of a couple of years.

These phrases indicate no parental support: "Your lack of parental support makes you emotionally volatile and prevents you from following through with decisions that you make." ..."She told me: Amherst is the only place that matters, and, really, you don’t have a family, so where else would you go? Amherst is the only place that you can be."

The phrase quoted is in full "What was the point of staying at Amherst? I had been stuck on campus for eleven months straight; each day had been more challenging and emotionally draining than the previous one. I had been feeling better recently, but each time I met with my dean I felt more emotionally distraught than I had beforehand. Her comments reminded me that in the Administration’s eyes I was the most base individual: a poor and parentless humanities major who was the school’s token-Deep-Southerner." If unsupported, or completely estranged from parents, it is probably quite truthful to state given those circumstances that she felt the administrators saw the situation in that way. It is not saying she has no parents at all, just how it was apparently viewed.

"Has she or the Epifanos been asked to make state & federal rape-reporting project leaders look like gameplayers?"

On what basis do is this said, it's definitely suggesting some collusion but it's really just an assertion with no evidence. On the contrary, I've done a lot of lot of reading that indicates many learning institutions have failed in effectively dealing with cases of sexual assault and rape. Why now? Because the college president has to address it, it's out there and looking at the comments on the article there are and have been consistent failures there.

Emily (not verified) says:
Fri, 11/09/2012 - 17:16

She never said her parents were dead. An explanation would be they are estranged. Just because they attended an award ceremony does not mean there wasn't abuse behind closed doors. Plenty of middle class families experience abuse hidden from the public eye. As for your argument that she moved a lot because of a military dad, the same house for 17 years should be interpreted as 17 years with her family. Not literally the same house and never moving. I'm shocked that you so quickly call this girl a liar without considering this story from a different perspective. As for not mentioning names, that shows she was not trying to accomplish anything other than raising awareness. Read the comments, this happens on campuses across the county every day. In my case, my very own house I shared with roommates. Like many others, I never reported the crime.