Indigenous Peoples' Day

October 14, 2019

This year, for the first time, the College officially recognizes the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples' Day to honor the histories, cultures, and contributions of Native peoples. As we know, the continent that Columbus is said to have discovered had long been inhabited. The colonization of the Americas that followed his landing decimated “the only peoples who can claim to be indigenous of this hemisphere” (Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past).

Fall Update from President Biddy Martin to the Amherst Community

October 4, 2019

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, Families, and Friends,
Yesterday, as many of you know, we were honored to host U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on campus. The enthusiasm for her visit was overwhelming. A capacity crowd of 1600 members of our campus community gathered in Coolidge Cage (beautifully transformed for the event) to hear her speak. Many of you joined via livestream. It was a tremendously inspiring occasion. I invite you to check out pictures and video of the event.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Visit Campus this Fall

October 5, 2019

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Ruth Bader Ginsbur: Photo credit: Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States I am delighted to announce that we will welcome U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to campus this fall. On Thursday, October 3, Justice Ginsburg and I will hold an onstage conversation at 5:00 p.m. in Johnson Chapel. Justice Ginsburg has also generously offered to meet with students in Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at 3:30 p.m. for a review of cases from the last term. The second woman ever appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the first Jewish justice since 1969, Justice Ginsburg is well known for her clear voice in support of the constitutional rights of all members of our society.  Her early career as a pathbreaking lawyer in defense of fundamental rights, as well as her nearly forty years as an appellate judge and Supreme Court Justice, have been well-documented in many media, including opera, late-night television, and two feature-length films.

This will be Justice Ginsburg’s second visit to Amherst. In 1991, two years prior to her appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, Amherst College president Peter Pouncey awarded Ginsburg an honorary degree, citing her “lifelong insistence that inequality for some unbalances a society and makes it precarious for all.” Her unwavering dedication to righting that imbalance over the course of her lengthy and principled career as a jurist has made Ginsburg not only a pioneer for gender equality but an inspiration to all who seek to address systematic injustice.

Update on Sessions' Visit

April 19, 2019

Dear Members of the Amherst Community,

In last week’s message, I said I would provide the community with an update on the invitation extended to former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, by the College’s Republican Club. The club has confirmed that Mr. Sessions has accepted its invitation to speak at Amherst next week. The visit is supported by funding donated to the club by external sources and by the Young America’s Foundation, which is the event’s sponsor. The republican club members are event hosts. The College has responsibility for security, as it always must, and has decided that the event will be open only to Amherst College faculty, staff, and students. It will be a ticketed event with one ticket per Amherst College ID. ID’s will be checked at the door.

Conflicts on Campus

April 11, 2019

Dear Members of the Amherst Community,

 A number of events, some interrelated, some not, have occurred on our campus that fall short of the standards of mutual respect, decency, and ethical behavior that we expect of each other. Furthermore, the response to these incidents has, in some cases, had the effect of escalation. Neither reason nor generosity have made enough of an appearance.

Response to Common Language Document

March 22, 2019

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

My email inbox and the conversations I have had over the past forty-eight hours are ample proof that we do not need an executive order to ensure freedom of speech or diversity of viewpoints on our campus. Faculty, staff, and students in this community have responded to the common-language document circulated on Wednesday with a wide range of views. Taken as a whole, the responses show the complexity of the issues and a desire to work through them together. Academic institutions do not need edicts to appreciate the value of expression.

Statement from President Biddy Martin, Amherst College

March 20, 2019

Creating a sense of belonging on a campus is difficult and complicated work. It is also vital to student success and the success of the entire community.  I know of no educational institution that would claim to have succeeded completely in the effort. Missteps are inevitable. 

The “Common Language Document” produced by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and circulated yesterday at Amherst takes a very problematic approach. The document defines terms in an effort to assist people in talking with one another about their identities and positions. The motivation of those who generated the definitions is understandable.  They were responding to questions from people who wanted to know better how historically underrepresented groups and individuals think about their identities and positions.

Announcement about Amherst's Accreditation

February 7, 2019

Dear Members of the Amherst Community,

I am pleased to report that we have received word from the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which was previously known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), that Amherst’s accreditation has been continued.  The report of February 1, 2019, is the final finding of NECHE for this round of accreditation and is available online In accordance with its regular policy, NECHE has scheduled Amherst for an interim review in the spring of 2023 and for a comprehensive evaluation in the spring of 2028.

Amherst College Comment on Proposed Changes to Title IX Process

January 31, 2019

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I write to share with you the letter submitted by Amherst College to the U.S. Department of Education yesterday in response to recently proposed changes to the Title IX process.

On November 16, 2018, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights published a new set of proposed Title IX regulations. During the ensuing 60-day public comment period, many institutions of higher education, including Amherst, chose to submit comments. Some of you may have filed your own comments on the proposed changes.

The College is committed to a fair and effective process by which to address sexual harassment and discrimination. We carefully reviewed the proposed regulations. Ultimately, the College supports some of the proposed regulations but has serious concerns about others. 

In addition to the time it will take for the Department of Education to review and respond to comments, there is a possibility of delays caused by legal challenges to the proposed changes. Hence, it may be some time before any new regulations take effect. We will keep you updated on ramifications for our campus community.