This section includes a partial collection of Amherst College regulations and policies that apply to students. A complete set of regulations can be found in the Student Handbook. The Student Handbook includes the entire honor code, important information about sexual misconduct, college offices, the student government, extracurricular organizations, and various other regulations and policies. All new students are advised to read the full version of the Handbook upon entrance to the college in order to make themselves familiar with the resources that are available to them and the policies that apply to them throughout their time at Amherst. Other students should consult the online Handbook when needed. The Student Handbook is available online at: www.amherst.edu/campuslife/deanstudents/handbook.
TERMS AND VACATIONS
THE COLLEGE year 2016-17 includes two regular semesters, the first with 13 weeks and the second with 14 weeks of classes. In the fall semester are an October break and a Thanksgiving recess. After the winter recess, there is a January Interterm. In the spring semester there is a vacation of one week.
All official College vacations and holidays are announced on the College Calendar appearing at the beginning of this catalog.
The January Interterm is a three-week period between semesters free from the formal structures of regular classes, grades, and academic credit. It is, in essence, a time when each student may undertake independent study in a subject or area to which he or she might not have access during the normal course of the year.
Students may center their activities on the campus or elsewhere as they choose. They may read, write, paint, compose, or inquire into some question or concern as inclination, ingenuity, and resources permit. They may wish to explore further or more deeply a subject which has aroused their curiosity or about which they wish to know more.
It is the belief of Amherst College that those engaged in education should be responsible for setting, maintaining, and supporting moral and intellectual standards. Those standards are assumed to be ones which will reflect credit on the College, its students, and its guests.
The College reserves the right to exclude at any time students whose conduct or academic standing it regards as unsatisfactory; in such cases fees are not refunded or remitted in whole or in part, and neither the College nor any of its officers consider themselves to be under any liability whatsoever for such exclusion.
All are expected to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the principles set forth in the following three statements, which together comprise the Amherst College Honor Code. Failure to do so may in serious instances jeopardize the student’s continued association with the College.
A. STATEMENT OF INTELLECTUAL RESPONSIBILITY AT AMHERST COLLEGE
Every person’s education is the product of his or her own intellectual effort and participation in a process of critical exchange. Amherst cannot educate those who are unwilling to submit their own work and ideas to critical assessment. Nor can it tolerate those who interfere with the participation of others in the critical process. Therefore, the College considers it a violation of the requirements of intellectual responsibility to submit work that is not one’s own or otherwise to subvert the conditions under which academic work is performed by oneself or by others.
Article I: Student Responsibility
Section 1. In undertaking studies at Amherst College every student agrees to abide by the above statement.
Section 2. Students must review the Statement of Intellectual Responsibility via the Registrar’s Webpage at the beginning of each semester. It is the responsibility of each student to read and understand this Statement and to inquire as to its implications in his or her specific courses.
Section 3. Orderly and honorable conduct of examinations is the individual and collective responsibility of the students concerned in accordance with the above Statement and Article II, Section 3, below.
Article II: Faculty Responsibility
Section 1. Promotion of the aims of the Statement of Intellectual Responsibility is a general responsibility of the Faculty.
Section 2. Every member of the Faculty has a specific responsibility to explain the implications of the statement for each of his or her courses, including a specification of the conditions under which academic work in those courses is to be performed. At the beginning of each semester all members of the Faculty should review the Statement of Intellectual Responsibility via the Registrar’s Webpage; they are reminded of their duty to explain its implications in each course.
Section 3. Examinations shall not be proctored unless an instructor judges that the integrity of the assessment process is clearly threatened. An instructor may be present at examinations at appropriate times to answer questions.
B. STATEMENT ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND DISSENT
Amherst College prizes and defends freedom of speech and dissent. It affirms the right of teachers and students to teach and learn, free from coercive force and intimidation and subject only to the constraints of reasoned discourse and peaceful conduct. It also recognizes that such freedoms and rights entail responsibility for one’s actions. Thus, every student bears the responsibility to protect the rights of all to express their views so long as there is neither use nor threat of force nor interference with the rights of others. Demonstrated cases of disruption of classes (whether, for example, by the abridgement of free expression in a class or by obstructing access to the place in which the class normally meets) or similarly of other academic activities will be regarded as serious breaches of this Statement and community standards and will receive appropriate sanctions.
C. STATEMENT OF RESPECT FOR PERSONS
Respect for the rights, dignity and integrity of others is essential for the well-being of a community. Actions by any person that do not reflect such respect for others are damaging to each member of the community and hence damaging to Amherst College. Each member of the community should be free from interference, discrimination, intimidation, sexual harassment or disparagement in the classroom; the social, recreational and residential environment; or the work place. Any behavior which constitutes sexual harassment or other verbal or physical abuse of any member of the community for reasons that include but are not limited to race, color, religion, national origin, ethnic identification, age, political affiliation or belief, sexual orientation, gender, economic status or physical or mental disability will be regarded as a serious violation of the Honor Code, and anyone found guilty of such behavior will be disciplined.
Amherst College does not condone harassment of any kind, against any group or individual, because of race, religion, ethnic identification, age, handicap, gender or sexual orientation. Such harassment is clearly in conflict with the interests of the College as an educational community and in many cases with provisions of law.
The Title IX Committee, appointed by the President, completed a comprehensive review of College sexual harassment statements and definitions. Effective May 2013, a detailed Sexual Misconduct Policy, including conduct procedures, definitions and resources, can be found at https://www.amherst.edu/offices/student-affairs/handbook/studentrights#AppC.
Amherst College is committed to establishing and maintaining an environment free of all forms of harassment. Sexual harassment breaches the trust that is expected and required in order for members of an educational community to be free to learn and work. It is a form of discrimination because it unjustly deprives a person of equal treatment. Sexual harassment can injure anyone who is subjected to it, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
The College’s policy on sexual harassment is directed towards behavior and does not purport to regulate beliefs, attitudes, or feelings. It is based on federal and state law, which prohibit certain specific forms of sexual harassment; on the College’s Statement on Respect for Persons, which requires that a person’s sex and sexual orientation be treated with respect; and on the following statement on sexual harassment passed by the Faculty on May 23, 1985:
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, academic work, or participation in social or extracurricular activities; (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for decisions affecting the individual; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or demeaning working, academic or social environment.
The College believes that sexual harassment, besides being intrinsically harmful and illegal, also corrupts the integrity of the educational process.
Because it is possible for one person to act unintentionally in a manner that sexually harasses another, it is imperative that all members of the College community understand what kinds of behavior constitute sexual harassment. Hence, we provide here a general description of sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment occurs when one person attempts to coerce another into a sexual relationship, or to punish a refusal to respond to or comply with sexual advances. Attempts to subject a person to unwanted attention of a sexual character, sexual slurs or derogatory language directed at another person’s sexuality or gender also can be forms of sexual harassment. Thus, sexual harassment can include a wide range of behavior, from the actual coercing of sexual relations to the forcing of sexual attentions, verbal or physical, on a non-consenting individual. It is also possible that sexual harassment can occur unintentionally when behavior of a sexual nature has the effect of creating a hostile environment. In some cases, sexual harassment is obvious and may involve an overt action, a threat, or reprisal. In other instances, sexual harassment is subtle and indirect, with a coercive aspect that is unstated.
Sexual harassment also occurs when a position of authority is used to threaten the imposition of penalty or the withholding of benefit unless sexual favors are granted, whether or not the threat is carried out. Sexual harassment, when it exploits the authority the institution gives its employees, or otherwise compromises the boundary between personal and professional roles, is an abuse of the power the College entrusts to them. The potential for sexual harassment exists in any sexual relationship between a student and a member of the faculty, administration or staff. Anyone in a position of authority should thoroughly understand the potential for coercion in sexual relationships between persons who are professionally affiliated. These relationships may involve persons in a position of authority over their colleagues (e.g., tenured faculty and non-tenured faculty; administrators and staff); or they may involve those who teach, advise or supervise students.
Sexual harassment also takes the form of unwanted attention among peers. Sexual harassment by peers may have the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment. Sexual harassment by peers can occur between strangers, casual acquaintances, hall-mates, and even friends.
Because sexual harassment is a direct violation of the College’s “Statement on Respect for Persons,” Amherst College will seriously and thoroughly investigate any complaints of sexual harassment and will discipline those found guilty. Any student who believes she or he may be the victim of sexual harassment by a member of the faculty should consult the section on “Seeking Redress in Cases of Sexual Harassment” and “The Resolution of Student Grievances with Members of the Faculty or Administration” in the Student Handbook. The Faculty Handbook gives further information about grievance procedures. Any student who believes she or he may be the victim of sexual harassment by a peer should consult the student-student grievance procedures in the Student Handbook.
Consensual Sexual Relationships Between Faculty Members and Students
Experience has shown that consensual sexual relationships between faculty members and students can lead to harassment. Faculty members should understand the potential for coercion in sexual relationships with students with whom the faculty members also have instructional, advisory or supervisory relationships.
Even when such relationships do not lead to harassment, they can compromise the integrity of the educational process. The objectivity of evaluations which occur in making recommendations or assigning grades, honors, and fellowships may be called into question when a faculty member involved in those functions has or has had a sexual relationship with a student.
For these reasons, the College does not condone and, in fact, strongly discourages consensual sexual relationships between faculty members and students. The College requires a faculty member to remove himself or herself from any supervisory, evaluative, advisory, or other pedagogical role involving a student with whom he or she has had or currently has a sexual relationship. Since the absence of this person may deprive the student of educational, advising, or career opportunities, both parties should be mindful of the potential costs to the student before entering into a sexual relationship.
In cases in which it proves necessary, the Dean of the Faculty, in consultation with the Dean of Students and the Chair (or Head) of the relevant department, will evaluate the student’s situation and take measures to prevent deprivation of educational and advising opportunities. The appropriate officers of the College will have the authority to make exceptions to normal academic rules and policies that are warranted by the circumstances.
ATTENDANCE AT COLLEGE EXERCISES
It is assumed that students will make the most of the educational opportunities available by regularly attending classes and laboratory periods. At the beginning of the semester, all instructors are free to state the policy with regard to absences from their courses. Thereafter, they may take such action as they deem appropriate, or report to the class deans the names of any students who disregard the regulations announced.
Students are asked to notify the Office of Student Affairs if they have been delayed at home by illness or family emergencies. They are also requested to report any unusual or unexplained absences from the College on the part of any fellow students.
Students who have received medical care at home should, as soon as possible, on or before the day of their return, report their absence to the Office of Student Affairs and submit a statement concerning their illness and any recommended treatment to Amherst College Health Services. Students who are ill at College will normally be attended at the College Health Service or will be referred to the University of Massachusetts University Health Services by the Staff Physician. It is assumed that all students not excused by the College physician are well enough to attend their regular classes.
The responsibility for any work missed due to an illness or other absence rests entirely upon the student.
Details about student health and medical programs are provided in the Student Handbook.
RECORDS AND REPORTS
Grades in courses are reported in three categories:
Passing Grades = A+, A, A–, B+, B, B–, C+, C, C–, D, Pass
Failing Grade = F
Term averages and cumulative averages are reported on a 14- point scale rounded to the nearer whole number. The conversion equivalents are: A+ = 14, A = 13, A– = 12; B+ = 11, B = 10, B– = 9; C+ = 8, C = 7, C– = 6; D = 4, F = 1. A Pass does not affect a student’s average.
Midterm warning letters are sent to students who receive grade of D or F after the end of the seventh week of classes each semester. Midterm warning grades are also available online. A report of all grades and averages is available online after the end of each semester.
Students may only retake courses for which they have received a failing grade or from which they have withdrawn in a prior semester.
The academic records and averages of Amherst College students completing Five College Interchange courses at Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges, and the University of Massachusetts will include these courses and grades; no separate transcripts are maintained at the other institutions for Amherst College students.
“Rank in class” will not be used, but transcripts and grade reports will be accompanied by a profile showing the distribution of cumulative averages for students of the same class level in the current and in the previous two years.
Student academic records are maintained by the Registrar’s Office and are confidential; information is released only at the request of the student. Partial transcripts are not issued; each transcript must include the student’s complete record at Amherst College to date. An official transcript carries an authorized signature as well as the embossed seal of Amherst College.
Transcripts of credit earned at other institutions, which have been presented to Amherst College for admission or transfer of credit, become a part of the student’s permanent record but are not issued, reissued, or copied for distribution. With the exception of Five College Interchange courses, grades for courses that were transferred from other institutions including study abroad are not recorded; credit only is listed on the Amherst transcript. Transcripts for all academic work at other institutions of higher education, including summer schools, should be requested directly from those institutions.
Amherst College students may choose, with the permission of the instructor, a pass/fail arrangement in two of the 32 courses required for the degree, but not in more than one course in any one semester. The choice of a pass/fail alternative must be made by the last day of add/drop at the beginning of the semester and must have the approval of the student’s instructor and all major advisors. No grade-point equivalent will be assigned to a “Pass,” but courses taken on this basis will receive either a “P” or an “F” from the instructor, although in the regular evaluation of work done during the semester the instructor may choose to assign the usual grades for work submitted by students exercising this option. First-year students, who have the privilege of withdrawing from one course without grade penalty, and transfer students, who have the privilege of withdrawing from one course during their first semester at Amherst, must take no less than three graded courses in each semester.
EXAMINATIONS AND EXTENSIONS
Examinations are held at the end of each semester and at intervals in the year in many courses. At the end of each semester, final grades are reported and the record for the semester is closed. In conformity with the practice established by the Faculty, no extension of time is allowed for intraterm papers, examinations and incomplete laboratory or other course work beyond the date of the last scheduled class period of the semester, unless an extension is granted in writing by both the instructor and the class dean. Students will not be allowed to register or participate in add/drop for the subsequent term until all grades from their last semester are recorded by the Registrar.
A student who is prevented by illness from attending a semester examination may be granted the privilege of a special examination by the instructor and the class dean, who will arrange the date of the examination with the instructor. There are no second or make-up semester examinations, unless a student is prevented by illness from taking such an examination at the scheduled time.
A semester examination may be postponed only by approval of the instructor and the class dean.
Only for medical reasons or those of grave personal emergency will extensions be granted beyond the second day after the examination period.
VOLUNTARY WITHDRAWALS AND MEDICAL LEAVES
The College has traditionally recognized the educational and personal rewards that many students receive from a semester or two away from the campus. Occasionally, faculty members, advisors, or deans may suggest that students withdraw from formal studies to gain fresh perspectives on their intellectual commitments, career plans, or educational priorities. Family circumstances, medical problems, declining motivation, and other factors commonly encountered by students may require that they remain away from the College for more than the usual College vacation periods. The College, therefore, encourages students to consider carefully their situations, to clarify their objectives, and to decide for themselves whether they should temporarily interrupt their study at the College and take voluntary withdrawals or medical leaves.
Students who wish to explore the advantages and disadvantages of voluntary withdrawals or medical leaves should confer with the Office of Student Affairs, College and departmental advisors, resident counselors and parents. Some students will also find it beneficial to discuss their situations and tentative plans with the Registrar, the Study Abroad Advisor, the foreign language departments, the Career Center and the Dean of Financial Aid.
To ensure that students have ample time for changing their status with the College and to allow the College to maintain full use of its educational facilities, all students considering voluntary withdrawals should speak with their class deans and advisors with as much advance notice as possible. Students who fail to give advance notice of their plans may not be guaranteed housing for the semester in which they prefer to return.
Prior to the seventh week of any semester, students may choose to withdraw voluntarily without their final grades being recorded. However, unless granted exemptions for medical reasons or grave personal emergencies by the Committee on Academic Standing or the Office of Student Affairs, students who withdraw after the seventh week of a semester will withdraw with penalty and have final grades for that semester recorded on their permanent academic records. Refunds of tuition, deposits and fees are treated according to the College policy stated on page 56 of this Catalog. When withdrawals have been approved by the class deans and faculty advisors, the deans will specify any readmission requirements in writing and will indicate what academic work, if any, must be completed prior to readmission. Sufficient medical documentation is required to support requests for medical leave and again prior to readmission to evaluate readiness to return to studies.
Students considering voluntary withdrawals or medical leaves should also read the section on Readmission. Information about educational leaves can be found on page 47.
The College reserves the right to exclude at any time students whose conduct it regards as unsatisfactory, or students who experience medical or behavioral needs requiring a level of support that cannot reasonably be provided while living in residence or participating in an academic program. Such conduct includes, but is not limited to: A student engages in, or is at significant risk of engaging in, behavior that could result in physical harm to self or other(s); manifests an inability to attend to personal needs related to food, shelter, personal safety and general well-being, such that there is a reasonable possibility of serious physical harm; behaves in a manner that interferes substantially with the rightful daily activities of members of the College or surrounding community, with the educational and/or residential environment, or with the orderly operation of the College, including behavior that imposes a significant burden on the College’s human resources needed for continued management of such behavior; fails to pay term bill by the stated due date; fails to provide required immunization records by the stated deadline; fails to register as required at the beginning of each term or fails to have all course grades recorded for the prior term.
In addition, a student who has been granted make-up examinations or extensions of time beyond the end of the term in order to avoid failing those courses, may be required to take a withdrawal. In such cases, fees are not refunded or remitted in whole or in part and neither the College nor any of its officers will have any liability whatsoever for such exclusion. When withdrawals have been imposed by the class deans, the deans will specify any readmission requirements in writing and will indicate what academic work, if any, must be completed prior to readmission. All readmission requirements must be completed by August 15 for fall or January 5 for spring or the student will not be allowed to return and will need to begin the readmission process again for the next academic semester. Students may appeal an involuntary withdrawal to the Dean of Students or designee.
Students anticipating return from leave should also read the next section on Readmission.
All students requesting readmission after voluntary withdrawals, involuntary withdrawals, medical leaves, and academic dismissals and all students on educational leaves who wish to return for the fall semester should write to their class deans as early as possible, but before March 15. For students planning to return for the spring semester, the letters should be received by the College before November 1.
Provisional Administrative Readmission following leave may be offered by the Office of Student Affairs to facilitate processes such as pre-registration and housing where appropriate. However, students must complete all readmission requirements by August 15 for fall and January 5 for spring.
In some cases, additional information, such as an interview on-campus, may be requested. Readmission requests from students seeking to return from academic dismissals and, in some cases from medical leaves, voluntary and involuntary withdrawals, will be referred to the Committee on Academic Standing or the Office of Student Affairs. In these cases, detailed letters requesting readmission, accompanied by grade reports of courses taken at an approved college or university, letters from employers, medical documentation, and other documents supporting the readmission requests should be sent to the Office of Student Affairs. Students on educational leaves should simply confirm their intention of returning to the campus before the above stated dates. Failure to meet these deadlines will jeopardize students’ opportunities to participate in the student residence room selection.
Amherst College students who are considering transferring to other institutions should understand that the College will not readmit those who choose to become degree candidates at other colleges and universities. All Amherst College students who transfer to and enroll as degree candidates at other institutions will forfeit their opportunity to re-enroll in the College. Before arranging to transfer, students should discuss their plans and options with their class dean.
Students who plan to attend other colleges and universities while on educational leave or as participants in exchange programs must have explicit written understanding with Amherst College as well as confirmation from host schools that they will be enrolled as visitors, rather than as degree candidates. (See Academic Credit from Other Institutions.)
At the midpoint and end of each semester, the academic records of all students are reviewed by the class deans and the Committee on Academic Standing. Those students who have failed to meet minimum academic requirements are dismissed from the College. The academic records of others about whom the Committee has some concern are also carefully examined. Depending on the degree of difficulty a student has experienced, he/she may be regularly reviewed, issued an academic warning or placed on probation. Students who, by failing a course, incur a deficiency in the number of courses required for normal progress toward graduation are expected to make up that course deficiency before being permitted to register for the next academic year. (See Course Requirements.)
Students belonging to one or more of the following groups may not expect to continue at Amherst College:
- Those who in any semester fail in two or more courses. Withdrawal from a course while failing it shall count as a failure.*
- Those who in any semester fail a course and receive an average of less than 7 in courses passed.*
- Those who in any semester pass all courses but receive an average of less than 6.
- Those who have accumulated delinquencies in three or more courses during their college careers.
- Those who have been on probation and have failed to meet the conditions of their probation.
Normally, a student dismissed from the College for reasons of unsatisfactory academic performance, will not be eligible for readmission until he or she has been away from the College for two semesters. During the period of academic dismissal (separation from the College) the student is usually expected to demonstrate readiness to return by simultaneously completing and passing at least two liberal arts courses at another accredited college or university each with grades of C or higher (a C- is not satisfactory). The courses must be approved (in advance) by the Registrar and the class dean before the student enrolls. The student will be granted credit towards his/her Amherst degree for deficiencies only. Any remaining course deficiencies, after the two-course requirement has been met, must be completed before returning. Other conditions for readmission shall be set forth clearly in writing and must be met by the student before he or she can be considered for readmission to the College. (See section on Readmission.)
Students who have been suspended from their studies for an academic or disciplinary infraction may not participate in educational leave (see page 68). Academic or disciplinary warning may also prohibit a student from studying abroad until he or she is in good standing and can discuss this scenario with the Director of Education Abroad.
A student readmitted to the College following an academic dismissal returns on academic warning.
Students taking courses in a summer school to make up a deficiency incurred at Amherst College must have their summer school courses approved in advance by the Registrar. The College does not grant transfer credit for courses completed with a grade below “C”.
*See Degree Requirements.
HOUSING AND MEAL PLANS
Residence Hall and Theme House student rooms are equipped with a bed, mattress, bureau, desk, chairs, and a bookcase or shelves for students to utilize during the academic year. Occupants are responsible for linens and other personal needs. Students may not add personal beds, sofas, lounges, or other large furniture without approval from the Office of Residential Life. More complete regulations for housing are contained in the Student Handbook.
All students living on campus, except for those students living in the Humphries House Cooperative, are required to subscribe to a meal plan for use in Valentine Dining Hall. Valentine Hall is able and willing to accommodate students with special dietary needs.
Students with unique circumstances who want to live off campus should apply for permission to live off campus via the housing website. First-year students, unless specifically excused by the Dean of Students, are required to live in on campus or with relatives.