Letter from President Martin to the Amherst Community

Oct. 23, 2018
Dear Members of the Amherst Community,
As you may know, over the weekend The New York Times reported on a leaked Health and Human Services document showing that the Trump administration intends to withdraw protections extended under the previous administration to transgender people. This they would do by defining “sex” as biologically fixed at birth and immutable and by having the Justice Department issue new guidance under Title IX, removing protections for those whose identity does not conform to the sex assigned at birth. If successful, this change would make those whose self-identification does not align with the supposedly fixed binary of male at birth or female at birth vulnerable to discrimination under Title IX guidance. To all the students, staff, and faculty who would be directly affected by this rollback, I want to offer unequivocal assurance that Amherst is committed to your rights, your dignity, and your wellbeing on this campus and that will not change. There is more that needs to be done to ensure your sense of wellbeing and belonging and we will continue that work. The Queer Resource Center (QRC) will hold a gathering tomorrow, Wednesday, 10/24, at 5:30 p.m. in Keefe Campus Center for those who would benefit from an opportunity to offer one another support. Dina Levi, Director of Inclusive Leadership, will also hold space tomorrow in the Powerhouse at noon. I ask that everyone in the community, regardless of your perspectives on sex and gender, think of ways to show your support of students, staff, and faculty in our trans, non-binary, and larger LGBTQ communities.

Fall Update from President Biddy Martin to the Amherst Community

Sept. 20, 2018

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, Parents, and Friends,

Many of you are accustomed to long messages from me. For those of you who are new to my communications, I offer a friendly warning that this letter is long, a reflection of how much is going on at the College.

Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018

June 27, 2018

Dear Representative McGovern,

Later today the House of Representatives will likely consider another immigration measure, the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018. While voting on immigration legislation is a much-needed step in the right direction, this bill shortchanges our country’s DACA-recipient students and alumni, and does not serve our nation’s long-term interests. I write to urge you to reject it. 

Promise: The Campaign for Amherst’s Third Century

Dear Alumni, Families, and Friends of Amherst College,

As many of you know, this weekend the College launched a new comprehensive fundraising campaign, Promise: The Campaign for Amherst’s Third Century. Fittingly, the official launch featured student talent and achievement at a gathering on campus that included students, faculty, staff, families, and friends of the College. I write today to share information about the campaign with you and to convey my enthusiasm about what the campaign will make possible.

Letter from President Martin to the Campus Community

April 2, 2018

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

The last weeks have been a time of tremendous loss, followed by shock and grief at the deaths of Professor Jeffrey Ferguson and our students, Andrew Dorogi and Christopher Collins. Every one of these three people had a significant impact on our community and each one of them will be sorely missed. The evident sense of loss on campus and the outpouring of support from the community have been a source of comfort to the families and friends of those we have lost.

Letter to Congress from President Martin

Amherst President Biddy Martin also wrote to U.S. Senator Edward Markey and U.S. Representative James McGovern urging Congress to pass a solution for Dreamers.

January 16, 2018

The Honorable Elizabeth Warren
317 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Warren, 

As a member of the Presidents'  Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a coalition of more than 200 university and college presidents and chancellors, I am writing to follow up on our letter calling on Congress to pass a Dreamer solution immediately, and before January 19th. The time to act is now. As we said in our letter, a solution for Dreamers is urgent and essential and should not be encumbered by broader immigration issues: 

Impact of Proposed Tax Bill on Higher Ed

November 7, 2017

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act proposal, released last week by the House Committee on Ways and Means, has significant ramifications for Amherst College as an institution, for our ability to pursue our mission, for our students collectively, and for many of them as individuals. It needs to be understood.

Taken in its entirety, the proposal is extraordinarily wide-ranging in its impact on the accessibility and quality of higher education for lower- and middle-income Americans. The bill includes tax cuts that purport to help these families, but their impact is uncertain and their positive potential is countered by measures that make education less attainable.

If passed, the Act would eliminate the tax deductibility of student loan interest, impose a tax on employer-funded tuition for employees, eliminate the Lifetime Learning Credit, reduce the American Opportunity Tax Credit, and make the pursuit of graduate and advanced degrees significantly more expensive. It would also severely increase the cost and limit the access that colleges and universities have to capital markets, which is how many institutions make necessary campus renovations and important enhancements to serve their students.

Title VII: Letter to the Amherst Community

October 6, 2017

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Yesterday afternoon U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo announcing that the Department of Justice does not interpret Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect transgender individuals in the workplace. The Department of Justice maintains that sex discrimination applies only to discrimination between men and women, understood as biological categories, and not to gender identities. 

Statement from President Martin Regarding Federal Government Travel Ban

Sept. 26, 2017
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
On Sunday the federal government issued a proclamation restricting entry into the U.S. of individuals from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. With the exception of North Korea, the restrictions do not apply to student visas. The proclamation also allows for exceptions in various circumstances. Note that legal permanent residents of the U.S. are exempt from the ban, as are visitors with current, valid visas. Refugees are not covered by Sunday’s announcement; the White House is expected to release rules for refugees soon.

Support for Community Members Affected by Natural Disasters

Friday, September 22, 2017

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

The ravaging hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, other Caribbean islands and U.S. states and devastating earthquakes in Mexico over the past few weeks have wreaked havoc on the lives of millions of people. They follow catastrophic natural disasters in many other parts of the world in 2017. Members of the Amherst community have been affected directly and indirectly. On behalf of our community, I extend deep sympathies to all the many people who have felt the impact of these disasters—including injury and death, loss of loved ones, loss of homes and belongings, and absence of the most basic resources and infrastructure.