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. 

Annual Update from Campus from President Biddy Martin

September 14, 2017

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

Amherst is an academic gem, full of avid learners and distinguished faculty who combine high expectations with an unusually strong commitment to student success. The class of 2021, Amherst’s bicentennial class, arrived at the College in late August. Their academic scores are exceptional: the class’s ACT composite is 33, which is a record. Their SAT composite (the “old test,” which had three components) is 2232—also a record. Among the members of the class are winners of Gates Millennium, National Merit, Coca-Cola, Davis, Goldwater, and Jack Kent Cooke Scholarships. 

The Class of 2021

Letter from President Martin to the Campus Community

September 11, 2017

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I am following up on the statement I sent to you yesterday with an update on the investigation by the Amherst College Police Department into the heinous act committed on our campus last week when someone tied and left a noose on Pratt field.

In an earlier email message, you will have learned from Chief of Police, John Carter, that the individuals responsible have been identified. Because they are juveniles, we are prevented by law from identifying them. The ACPD has now turned the case over to the District Attorney’s office where a decision will be made about the action’s possible status as a hate crime under Massachusetts law. I want to assure you that neither of these two individuals will be allowed on our campus again. The College is issuing no trespass orders and they will be barred from setting foot on campus.

Noose on Our Campus

September 10, 2017

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

As you learned on Thursday in an email from Chief of Police, John Carter, someone tied and left a noose on the football field this past week. I want to make sure that everyone in our community understands the gravity of that act of hate. The noose is a symbol of lynching, a form of racist violence and socially tolerated killing of Black people that occurred from late 19th century to the 1960s primarily, but not exclusively, in the South. I grew up in the aftermath of that time and place; I refuse to go back.

Over the past several months, nooses have been found in a number of places around the country, including the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture, in schools, and on several university campuses.  They are unmistakably racist symbols of hate. They have no purpose other than to evoke fear. It is appalling that one was tied and left on the ground in a visible part of our campus. This hateful and egregious act cannot stand without a response that affirms our collective outrage.

Biddy Martin Responds to Federal Announcement on Title IX

September 8, 2017

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Yesterday Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department of Education intends to rescind the current guidelines for how colleges and universities handle sexual misconduct under the federal Title IX policy. Officials will begin a formal notice-and-comment process in preparation for changes in Title IX enforcement. Title IX remains in effect, as do the College’s policies, state and federal laws, and federal regulations regarding sexual misconduct that were in force before today’s announcement.

It is important for you to know that Amherst will not pull back from our commitment to preventing sexual misconduct, to redressing the harm that it causes, and to following processes that offer necessary safeguards both to those who are accused and those who bring complaints. The measures we have put in place in support of all parties engaged in a sexual misconduct matter surpass current Title IX policy and the guidance issued by the Obama administration. 

Biddy Martin Responds to President Trump’s Decision to Rescind DACA

September 5, 2017

Dear Members of the Amherst Community:

Today President Trump made the reprehensible decision to rescind DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. As you know, DACA allowed young people to achieve the dreams in pursuit of which their families risked everything in coming to the United States. It gave them the opportunity to live in the open as they pursued an education and work in the country they consider theirs. It is a travesty to put the promise of hundreds of thousands of people in jeopardy, subjecting them to the threat of deportation and hindering their ability to make their mark on the world.

Letter to President Trump About DACA

August 30, 2017

The Honorable Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

In the face of reports that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) may be eliminated, I write to express the strongest possible support for its continuation and to urge you to protect and defend it. As you know, there are currently 800,000 young people who are pursuing their dreams in the United States because of this program, which allows them to work, pursue an education, and give back to the country they call home without the looming threat of deportation.  The benefits accrue not merely to them, but to the nation as a whole. The DACA program gives our educational institutions and workplaces access to the talent, creativity, and determination of hundreds of thousands of people who are Americans in all but immigration status.  And they add millions of dollars to the nation’s economy.