Statement from the Board of Trustees, January 26, 2016

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Dear Members of the Amherst College Community,

During the past several months President Biddy Martin and the members of the board of trustees have had scores (all right, hundreds) of communications from alumni, students, and others about the matter of Lord Jeffery Amherst. The communications reflect and embody many points of view. A lot of them begin with something like the following: "I know there are far more important issues facing the College, but...."

And I agree—with the first part of the sentence and also with the "but." The controversy over the mascot may seem small in itself and yet in many minds it's symbolic of larger issues. The controversy is bound up with feelings about matters as specific and recent as the protests at the College last fall and as broad and old as the College's mission and values. It's bound up with personal memories and personal experience. I’ll come back to the mascot shortly, but the larger issues deserve some recognition first.

Statement from Amherst College Board of Trustees, February 24, 2015

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Dear Members of the Amherst College Community,

In the aftermath of its winter meeting the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a Statement on Sustainability and Investment Policy. The statement acknowledges the grave threat posed by climate change, the role in climate change played by human activity, and the responsibility we bear to confront this challenge. It commits Amherst College to a path that will make sustainability a key consideration in both the College’s daily operations and its investment process. The statement builds on the important sustainability efforts pursued by the administration for more than a decade. And it welcomes the call by many in the Amherst community for clarity and action.

The statement supports developing a strategy for achieving a carbon-neutral footprint—something that only a handful of colleges and universities have achieved. The statement does not endorse divestment of the endowment from fossil fuels. It calls for developing a framework for investing with managers who thoughtfully and consistently incorporate environmental considerations into their investment decisions. Progress in these and other areas will be assessed by the College’s new Office for Sustainability and by the Investment Office, and information will be available to the Amherst community. In laying down standards, we must hold ourselves to them.

The Board’s statement defines sustainability as a basic College objective—one that will be transformative over time—and challenges Amherst to establish itself as a model. At a moment when so many American institutions are regarded with skepticism, it is incumbent on higher education, and on places like Amherst, to lead by example: in the way we think, teach, and debate; in the way we live together as a community; and in the way we protect and sustain our environment and our planet.

Sincerely,

Cullen Murphy
Chair


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The Board of Trustees of Amherst College is united in the belief that the long-term threat of climate change is real, and that human activity contributes to climate change. We are also united in the belief that Amherst has a responsibility to match its convictions with behavior—to display leadership by taking steps that make a difference.

Board statement and resolution on fraternities

May 6, 2014

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

I write to share with you a recent Board of Trustees decision concerning fraternity membership. In 1984, the board prohibited the use of any College facilities or resources, including money and staff time, by fraternities or sororities and revoked any College affiliation with, or recognition of, these organizations. The board has voted to reaffirm the 1984 Trustees’ Resolution on Fraternities and, effective July 1, 2014, to prohibit student participation in fraternities and sororities and fraternity-like and sorority-like organizations, either on or off campus. Violations of this decision will be treated consistent with other violations of the Honor Code, which sets forth standards and expectations that apply to all students, faculty and staff.

I am attaching the board’s statement and resolution, which explain the history and reasoning behind our reaffirmation of the 1984 prohibition on fraternities and sororities and also commit the College to new efforts on behalf of student life. We believe deeply that the residential experience is vital to an Amherst education, and will continue to do all we can to strengthen it.

Trustee Andrew Nussbaum ’85 and I will be on campus next Monday, May 12, from 6:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., in the Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall, to speak with anyone who has questions about this decision.

Thank you for your attention to this announcement.

Sincerely,

Cullen Murphy ’74 Chair, Board of Trustees

Statement from the Board of Trustees

January 30, 2013

In October 2012, President Biddy Martin, with the support of the Board of Trustees, empaneled a special committee to make recommendations for improvements in the College’s efforts to prevent and address sexual assault and sexual misconduct at Amherst College. This action was taken following the emergence of disturbing accounts of cases of sexual assault and misconduct. At its meeting in October, the Board heard firsthand from many members of the Amherst community, including a delegation of students. The urgency of the issue was plain.

Board of Trustees' Statement on Sexual Misconduct and Assault

October 20, 2012

To the Members of the Amherst College Community:

Amherst College is confronting one of the most serious challenges facing colleges and universities across the country—sexual misconduct and assault.  In the way that it responds to these issues, the College is committed to holding itself accountable to the highest possible standard.