March 18, 2021 updates are included throughout the plan; find them below.

1. A Racial History of Amherst. 

In ReclaimAmherst, students and alumni write that the College’s founders were slaveowners, among the most vicious racists of their day. Over my nine years as president, I have asked our archivist, Mike Kelly, several times to help me understand Amherst’s relationships to slavery. After quite a bit of examination, Mike does not believe the research supports the claim that the founders were slaveowners. As far as we can find, David Parsons, who is named as a slaveowner in ReclaimAmherst, and who did own slaves, could not be considered a founder. For more information on the founders, please explore the College’s early history collection and a web page of resources on College history. Regardless of whether any founders are discovered to have owned slaves or been directly involved in the slave trade, there is no question that the institution of slavery produced considerable wealth for many white people in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and likely for some with ties to Amherst over the years.

What we need, in my view, is a broad and deep historical study of the College’s ties to slaveholding and the capital accumulation that slavery provided for some, following the lead of other projects such as those initiated at Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania. We will want our study to extend into the present, illuminating the experiences, achievements, and contributions of our Black alumni. We will commission this project with the expectation that interested Amherst faculty, staff, students, and alumni will be involved in the research. The College will make all findings publicly available. I will ask the provost, Catherine Epstein, herself an historian, and our archivist, Mike Kelly, to assume responsibility for organizing the project and establishing a panel of scholars with research expertise in this area.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • The Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty has primary responsibility for this important project. I have asked Provost Epstein and Mike Kelly, Head of the Archives and Special Collections, to co-chair a steering committee that Provost Epstein and I will appoint before the end of the semester. It will be made up of faculty, staff, and students who will advise on the project’s design and development, soliciting perspectives and advice from those who have undertaken similar studies on other campuses and from members of the Amherst community.
  • A call for applications from those students interested in participating in the archival research will go out before January 15. We hope and expect that researchers from other colleges and universities will also assist with the project. The Provost’s Office will provide updates on the work every six months, starting in February 2021. The charge from the president is available on our website. Please feel free to submit advice and expressions of interest via the comment form.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • The steering committee on a Racial History of Amherst College has now been established. Co-chaired by Provost Epstein and Mike Kelly, the committee includes Sika Essegbey '23; Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer Norm Jones; Professor Hilary Moss; Ellis Phillips-Gallucci '23; Chief Advancement Officer Betsy Cannon Smith '84; Professor Leah Schmalzbauer; and Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Angie Tissi-Gassoway. Nancy Ratner, Director of Academic Projects, supports the work of the steering committee.
  • The committee had an initial meeting to discuss its charge and functions. Shortly thereafter, Mike Kelly hired three student researchers, Claire Dunbar '21, Edmund Kennedy '23, and Cy Nguyen '21, to further explore Amherst's connections to slavery. To date, the students have read background articles about slavery and higher education while reviewing websites produced by other colleges and universities exploring this history. The next step will be to launch a website where Mike Kelly and the research assistants will write blog posts about their work; the goal is to engage the community through regular communication about readings and research findings. One specific goal for this first cohort is to turn the original Charity Fund ledger, the record of the people and donations that established the college, into a publicly available spreadsheet that will support further research and data visualization projects.

2. Biennial Alumni and Student Testimonies. 

We will organize and participate in biennial sessions for Black alumni and current students to share their experiences and perspectives with members of the senior staff and the Board of Trustees. A detailed summary of proposals for change will be made available to all participants within a month of the testimonies. The first such gathering will take place in the summer of 2021, and testimonies will recur every two years thereafter.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • These sessions will provide current students and alumni an opportunity to propose changes they believe the College needs to make in order to achieve its DEI goals, and to present those proposals directly to a representative from the senior staff, the Board of Trustees, and the Committee of Six. A small committee, chaired by Chaka Laguerre ’08 and Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer Norm Jones, and including students, alumni, and staff will be responsible for designing the sessions. Please send preliminary thoughts through the comment form. The committee will announce the design and the date for the first biennial session no later than April 1, 2021, for a first iteration in the summer of 2021.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • A subcommittee of the faculty anti-racism leadership group has worked on this project. The members of this subcommittee are Professor Khary Polk, Professor Sonya Clark, and Chaka Laguerre ’08.
  • CEIO Norm Jones and Chaka Laguerre are taking the lead on a first biennial event which will be announced in April and planned for fall 2021.

3. The Board of Trustees. 

The Board of Trustees is committed to racial and generational diversity among its members and will report further on its deliberations in these areas following the October 2020 board meeting. The board will shortly establish a new standing committee, on par with its other standing committees, focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The committee will be charged with responsibility for oversight of the College’s progress toward these goals, which will also be taken into account by the board in its annual evaluations of the president. Other board standing committees, such as the committees on instruction, human resources, and student life, have aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion in their portfolios and will increase their attention to these goals, as well. The board is resolute in its support of my intentions and commitments in this letter.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • The trustees have now established a standing DEI committee of the board, and in so doing have taken a step that is relatively rare among college and university boards. The committee has met twice, once in advance of a full board meeting and once during the regular October meeting of the board. It will meet again in early December in advance of the full board’s scheduled January meeting. In the first two meetings, CEIO Norm Jones and the president presented the administration’s goals and initiatives as well as the organizational structure of DEI work at the College.
  • The antiracism student advisory group has requested that the board’s DEI committee meet on an annual basis with them.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • The new standing DEI committee of the board continues to meet during each board meeting and between meetings. They are focusing on ensuring that diversity, equity, and inclusion are part of every board committee’s work, as well as a focus of the board as a whole.
  • The board’s DEI Committee met with President Martin’s student anti-racism advisory group in March 2021.
  •  A number of Board members have joined a DEI reading and discussion group with President Martin and Norm Jones.

4. The Senior Staff. 

We will increase the racial diversity of the senior staff as positions become available. In the meantime, the president’s task force on diversity and inclusion will become a standing committee made up of faculty, staff, and students, and alumni, including representatives of the Committee of Six and other major governance committees. This standing committee, co-chaired by Norm Jones and a member of the faculty, will have responsibility for reviewing progress of the three-year diversity, equity, and inclusion goals of each major unit of the College. The committee’s assessment of progress will inform the annual performance reviews of the senior staff. We will create a website on which divisional goals and other commitments made in this document can be tracked for progress.

Members of the senior staff will meet at least once a semester with the leadership of the Black Students Union and with representatives of other student organizations.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • All senior staff members have set DEI goals for their particular areas of responsibility and will be refining those goals in ongoing exchange with the staff members in their units over the next several months. Before the end of the spring 2021 semester, those goals, metrics for assessing progress, and progress toward the goals will be available to the community. As noted above, the Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, formerly a task force, will review the goals and progress and share their assessments with the president. The senior staff has benefited over the course of the semester from internal discussions of race and racism, from two workshops designed specifically for the senior team and led by Dina Levi, Director of Workforce Equity and Inclusive Leadership, and from programming on the history of race and racism in the U.S.
  • Because of the intensity of our work on COVID-19, the senior staff was not able to set up meetings with the leadership of BSU and other student groups. The student anti-racism advisory group has served some of the purposes we had in mind. Before the fall 2020 semester ends, we would like to consult with the e-boards of BSU and other affinity groups about how best and most realistically to realize the goal of twice-yearly meetings of senior staff members with members of affinity-group e-boards.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • Each senior staff member has established DEI goals within their division, and each division has a DEI plan that the College’s Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is reviewing.
  • The Provost and Dean of the Faculty is also in the process of developing an anti-racism plan for the academic and administrative areas for which she has responsibility.
  • Select members of the senior staff have met with the student anti-racism advisory group and President Martin’s COVID-19 student task force.
  • Select members of the senior staff have been asked to meet with the AAS in sessions open to students.

5. Faculty Diversity and Development. 

We will continue increasing the racial diversity of the faculty, building on the progress that the provost and the chief diversity and inclusion officer have made over the past several years. All search committees for new faculty hires participate in anti-bias workshops and all candidate pools are submitted to the chief diversity and inclusion officer for review and approval. These measures will remain in place.

Of the five senior faculty FTE’s requested by the president and approved by the board in 2015 to diversify the faculty, only two lines have been filled. Together, Provost Epstein, CEIO Jones, and I will urge our academic departments to step up their efforts to identify and recruit outstanding Black and Latinx scholars for these approved positions. Those departments that have made progress toward racial diversity using existing lines or have filled one of the open new lines will get preference when the president and provost review recommendations from the Committee on Educational Policy for searches going forward. We are committed to making new funding available, based on demonstrated success. Our goal is to have the faculty that reflects the diversity of the student body.

Pre-tenure faculty rightly note that many departmental practices are opaque at best. Success in recruiting, retaining, mentoring, and tenuring outstanding faculty from a wide range of backgrounds requires greater clarity and transparency in departments. Over the course of this academic year, all academic departments will be required to document their policies and practices in departmental handbooks; these will be shared with the provost by the end of the spring 2021 semester. The provost’s office will make available best practices and scholarship in creating truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive working and learning environments. All departments will be expected to participate.

Given the abundance of evidence of racial and gender bias in teaching evaluations and their significance in reappointment, tenure, and promotion decisions, the president and provost will charge an ad hoc committee with exploring more holistic approaches to the evaluation of teaching that will be used during reappointment and tenure processes. The ad hoc committee’s work should be completed before the end of the spring 2021 semester.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • A subcommittee of the faculty anti-racism leadership group described above has been meeting on a weekly basis to develop strategies for accelerating the hiring of a more diverse faculty, including ideas for filling the three unfilled faculty positions mentioned in the plan and possible cluster hiring efforts. They are also exploring ways of enhancing the retention of faculty of color. Ultimate authority and responsibility for efforts to bolster the hiring and retention of a more diverse faculty rest with the Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI), and the academic departments. The faculty anti-racism leadership group will report its recommendations at the end of fall 2020 semester or, at the latest, the beginning of the spring 2021 semester.
  • Faculty Equity and Inclusion Officers Allen Hart and Pawan Dhingra are responsible for developing strategies for faculty retention, working in collaboration with the Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty and our academic departments. Transparency about departmental decision-making is one of a number of recommendations that have emerged from discussions with faculty, both tenured and non-tenured. Provost Epstein expects that every department will have developed a handbook outlining decision-making processes before the end of this academic year so that the workings of the departments and their procedures and practices for recruitment and retention of faculty, for re-appointment, tenure, and promotion, and for other key departmental matters become more systematic and clearer to all department members.
  • Due to the pandemic, the provost has delayed forming the ad hoc committee charged with considering research on bias in teaching evaluations and exploring more holistic approaches to the evaluation of teaching that will be used during reappointment and tenure processes. The committee will be formed in spring 2021 and will do its work in the 2021-22 academic year.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • Faculty hiring continues to go very well. A full update will be provided when the hiring season has ended later this semester.

6. Pedagogical and Curricular Development. 

Provost Epstein has made curriculum development, with specific attention to race and racism, a priority for the faculty and expects every department to take part in workshops focused on pedagogical and curricular development. CEIO Jones has asked Allen Hart, James E. Ostendarp Professor of Psychology and a faculty equity and inclusion officer, and Pawan Dhingra, a professor of American studies and likewise a faculty equity and inclusion officer, to be part of the work of making race and racism more central to teaching. We currently have several inclusivity-focused examples of innovation in teaching and learning that are models of what it means to promote student success. One is already a national model, Associate Professor of Chemistry Sheila Jaswal’s “Being Human in STEM.” A new program promises to be equally successful, the STEM Incubator project, created and taught by Assistant Professor of Biology Marc Edwards and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Chris Durr, and also taught by Assistant Professor of Statistics Brittney Bailey. Workshops will begin during the fall 2020 semester.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • The workshops foreseen in the August plan have not yet been planned or offered, given the pressures on faculty and staff time by COVID-19. We will provide a status report in our next update. Meanwhile, a subcommittee of the Faculty Leadership Group has focused its efforts on promising approaches to ensuring that students’ education at Amherst includes an understanding of the history and ongoing impact of race and racism in the U.S. and beyond. Members of the subcommittee are in the process of soliciting feedback on their ideas from faculty colleagues and will make final recommendations to the full leadership committee and appropriate faculty governance committees within the next three months.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • Anti-racist pedagogy conversation circles began in Feb. 2021, facilitated by the faculty equity and inclusion officers and the Center for Teaching and Learning, with the goal of working together to better understand how to create a fully inclusive learning culture at Amherst. They occur every other Thursday.
  • The curricular subcommittee of the faculty anti-racism leadership group includes Professors Brittney Bailey, Amrita Basu, Rhonda Cobham-Sander, Pawan Dhingra, Khary Polk, and Jen Manion, with weekly meetings that include Provost Epstein and President Martin. They presented a working proposal for strengthening students’ education in race and racism to faculty in March 2021 for initial feedback; the proposal has been well-received by many and the subcommittee members continue to revise the proposal and seek feedback from numerous smaller meetings of faculty, a meeting with instructional staff, and a meeting with the student anti-racism advisory group. The group will next seek broader input from students.

7. External Review Board. 

We will re-establish an external review board on diversity, equity, and inclusion, to be made up of scholars and practitioners with expertise in educational equity and antiracist work. As was the case with an earlier external advisory team, this board will visit the College every two years and assess progress on the basis of written reports each year they visit. We will seek advice from members of the campus community on the membership of the review team. The board’s reports and recommendations will be submitted to the administration and made available to the entire community and the board of trustees. The first visit of the newly constituted review board will be during the fall 2021 semester. 

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • Primary responsibility for periodic external reviews lies with ODEI and the President’s Office. The faculty anti-racism leadership group cited above will recommend the members of the new external review team with final decisions made jointly by the senior team and the president. Invitations will go out in spring 2021 with the expectation that the first visit should occur no later than fall 2021 or, if necessary, because of the pandemic, spring 2022. We will update the Amherst community in the spring on our progress in establishing the review team for 2021-2022. Please submit ideas for the external review team.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • The faculty anti-racism leadership group has generated an initial list of possible members of an external review board and will solicit recommendations from the broader community.

8. Staff Diversity. 

Just as our faculty should be more representative of our student body, so must our staff, especially in managerial and leadership positions. We will accelerate efforts not only to construct diverse candidate pools for open positions, but also hold ourselves accountable for hiring Black and Latinx staff in all areas of the College. I will personally hold senior staff accountable for making measurable progress, beginning immediately. For supervisory, managerial, and senior-level positions, we will contract with a Black-owned firm to ensure we are reaching out to all potential Black, Indigenous, and other candidates of color.

In addition, our staff—regardless of their race, ethnicity, and identity—must better understand and respect the lived experiences of the students they support and provide services to students in ways that can meet every student where they are. We will redouble our efforts to provide anti-bias training and other forms of education to all staff, many of whom have expressed eagerness to learn and improve competencies in this important work. We will begin immediately to require bias training for all search committees, to assess whether positions have been too narrowly defined for successful recruitment, and to require that all candidate pools and lists of finalists be submitted to Dina Levi in the office of diversity and inclusion for review.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • Primary responsibility for staff recruitment and retention rests with the Office of Human Resources (OHR), which reports to the Chief Policy Officer/General Counsel, and with ODEI. All search committees are now required to participate in anti-bias training at the start of the search. OHR is working with departments on successful recruitment strategies and is currently searching for a Director of Recruitment and Onboarding. In collaboration with ODEI (specifically, the Office of Workforce Equity and Inclusive Leadership) the new director will be responsible for diversifying candidate pools, supporting the hiring of a racially diverse workforce, strengthening the College’s recruiting and orientation model, and supporting staff retention.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • The Black-owned executive search firm Carrington & Carrington, Ltd., will be assisting the College with the search for a new Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). 
  • The Office of Financial Aid has a signed contract for a search (now underway) for a senior manager. The search is headed by a Black consultant; two of the three search consultants on the search are Black. 
  • We will continue to prioritize working with Black-owned firms, but we have also learned that it may not always be possible to contract with one. Many executive search firms are owned by the set of partners of the firm rather than a single person, for example.
  • We will ensure that any search firm we use includes recruiters of color and/or people with a strong track record of identifying and successfully recruiting candidates of color.
  • During the search process for the Director of Recruitment and Onboarding, the CHRO announced her resignation from the College. As a result, we are temporarily delaying filling the position to allow the new CHRO to participate in selecting the successful candidate. Our search for a new CHRO is underway. 
  • Among important recent staff hires are new directors for the Resource Centers team: Lupita Mendez (she/her) joins us from the University of Arizona as the incoming Director of the Center for Diversity and Student Leadership. David Ko (he/him) will start soon as the Director of the Center for International Student Engagement. Hayley Georgia Nicholas (she/her) will be the Director of the Women’s and Gender Center. She will move to her new position from the Office of Admission, once the Amherst Class of 2025 has been admitted.

9. Senior Fellows Program. 

In order to ensure that we benefit from the work of the most distinguished voices in the area of anti-racist scholarship and policy, the president’s office will make funding available for visits by distinguished scholars and policy experts in the field. Ideally, this program of visiting fellows would become part of an existing center or unit. Fellows will be asked to be on campus or available remotely for two weeks each year for a period of two years to give a series of named public lectures, hold seminars, and offer office hours. Inaugural fellows will be selected during the fall 2020 semester for visits during the 2021-22 academic year.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • A subcommittee of the faculty anti-racist leadership group has proposed a two-year pilot program with senior fellows funded by presidential discretionary funds and hosted by the Center for Humanistic Inquiry and the President’s Office. The subcommittee seeks recommendations for senior fellows and welcomes your ideas. More information will be forthcoming, but if you have initial ideas, please send them to Darryl Harper, Associate Professor of Music and Director of the Center for Humanistic Inquiry.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • Professor Harper and the  committee have collected roughly 40 nominations for the program to date. A committee will meet within the next ten days to prioritize the list, after which Professor Harper will begin reaching out to gauge interest and availability of the top choices. Announcements will be made by late April or early May.

10. Bias, Harassment, and Discrimination. 

The College is establishing a new anti-discrimination and harassment policy and a bias reporting protocol that will serve all members of the community. In conjunction, the College is developing a single point of entry for all reports of identity-based bias, discrimination, and harassment. A cross-sectional team will review the reports, assess individual and community harm, provide necessary support to all involved persons, and inform those affected of options for resolving the incident and addressing the harm. These changes will be in place early in the fall 2020 semester.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • New Identity-Based Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy: The Office of General Counsel has drafted a College policy that explains our processes for addressing harassment and discrimination. The proposed policy is working its way through the approval process, which includes being shared with the Committee of Six. We anticipate that it will take effect at the beginning of the spring 2021 semester, after approval by the president. Once approved, it will be posted on the College’s policy page. Comments and questions about any College policy can be submitted to policies@amherst.edu. (Anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws applicable to Amherst College, include, among others: the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act; the Equal Pay Act; the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act; the Higher Education Opportunity Act; Massachusetts Employment Nondiscrimination Laws [Ch. 151B]; the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act; the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act; Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.) 
  • Beginning in February, 2021, there will be a portal through which complaints of identity-based harm, including bias incidents, harassment, and discrimination, can be submitted and reviewed by a team of professional staff and faculty. Based on legal standards and College policies, the review team will decide whether the incidents constitute bias or discrimination and harassment. If the incident is a possible Title IX violation, it will be handled through the Title IX process. If an incident appears to fit the legal definition of any other identity-based harassment or discrimination under Civil Rights or other relevant laws, the incident will be managed under the new policy and investigated by internal or external individuals with expertise in the relevant law. If the subsequent investigation shows that harassment or discrimination may have occurred, the matter will be referred to the existing grievance or disciplinary processes for faculty, staff, and students. If the initial review team considers the incident to be bias, it will activate the resources associated with the Center for Restorative Practices (see #11, below). The College will add one additional staff position over the next six months to ensure an adequate number of coordinators for the investigation of these incidents.
  • Bias Reporting and Response Protocol: ODEI has primary responsibility for the development and implementation of the bias protocol. Based on the work of the President’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, which is composed of students, faculty, and senior staff (and which is now a standing committee), the protocol has been drafted and shared with the Committee of Six and the senior staff of the College. The protocol requires approval of the president and takes effect at the beginning of the spring 2021 semester. In the absence of a bias reporting protocol, Amherst stands out as an anomaly among our peers. As noted below, the thought invested in this initiative and the call for educational and restorative, as opposed to punitive, approaches to bias incidents reflect our mission and values.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • The College has a revised Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy, an updated Student Code of Conduct, a revised Statement of Academic and Expressive Freedom, a revised Title IX Policy and related procedures, a revised Section 504 Disability Grievance Procedure, and a new Center for Restorative Practices that will implement a bias reporting and response protocol.
  • Together, these policies and procedures will help Amherst College build a more inclusive, compassionate, and respectful community in which every student, staff, and faculty member can thrive. Our intention is to provide a number of different opportunities for support and, where applicable, redress, including opportunities for restorative work that helps to rebuild and strengthen relationships and deepen our understanding of ourselves and others. Information that clarifies the processes for addressing identity-based harm is available and will make it easier for members of our community to understand how to report, and to learn more about the steps and potential outcomes of the various processes to which a report could lead.
  • An online portal has been created for reporting incidents of bias, discrimination, or harassment. This is a single place where all reports can be made (anonymous reporting is possible). It is intended to make reporting simpler, putting the burden on the College, rather than the person making the report, to ascertain which process, if any, applies to the reported incident. More information and an FAQ will be available soon.
  • Amherst has established a review team responsible for responding to reports of identity-based harm. This cross sectional team is chaired by Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer Norm Jones and comprises members from the Office of General Counsel, Student Affairs, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Our ability to offer various forms of support and, where applicable, redress to those who have experienced bias, harassment, or discrimination based on their identities will strengthen the College’s efforts to diminish discrimination, harassment, and bias. For more information on the review process, please visit the online portal

11. The Center for Restorative Practices at Amherst College (RPAC). 

Led by Professor Allen Hart, this year-long pilot focused on restorative practice has involved over 100 faculty, students, and staff engaged in dialogue-based conflict resolution and community-building. A national search is underway for an assistant director to support a center. RPAC will be used over time to strengthen relationships across students, faculty, staff, and alumni communities. The center director will report annually on the activities of the center, and reports will be made available to the community.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • ODEI has primary responsibility for the connection between bias response and restorative practices. Under Professor Hart’s leadership, the College has established a Center for Restorative Practices designed to address incidents of bias with support, repair, and education. The Center has begun to offer opportunities for dialogue and support and expects to be fully operational by spring 2021. The Center will make it possible for the College to respond to bias incidents, where appropriate, with a restorative, rather than punitive, approach, yielding deeper and more transformative results for those involved and for the community as a whole. The external review committee we establish for anti-racist and broader DEI work will include a review of the Center in its periodic assessments.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • The Center officially launched in March 2021, with a celebratory spring speaker series. Suzanne Belleci has been hired as the Assistant Director of the Center, under the direction of Professor Hart.

12. Student Code. 

Also in keeping with an earlier commitment, the Student Code of Conduct will incorporate policies and procedures for identity-based harassment and discrimination, including explicitly on the basis of race. This work will be complete early in the fall 2020 semester.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • The Office of Student Affairs has primary responsibility for the development and implementation of a new section of the student code governing identity-based harassment. Student-on-student violations of the College’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies will be handled in accordance with the new clause. The addition to the code will be reviewed by the College Council, a shared governance committee made up of faculty, students, and staff; it will go into effect and be published in the spring 2021 semester.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • The Student Code of Conduct has been updated for spring 2021 to incorporate policies and procedures for identity-based harassment and discrimination, including, explicitly, on the basis of race.

13. Statement of Academic and Expressive Freedom. 

The faculty will reexamine the Statement of Academic and Expressive Freedom at its meetings in the fall 2020 semester. The Committee of Six has already begun to address the request made by the Black Students Union to clarify that racial epithets and racial hate are not protected forms of expression.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • The Committee of Six proposed the addition of new language which was discussed in a committee of the whole session at the October 6, 2020, faculty meeting. In response, the Co6 sought written comments and questions from the faculty and amended the language that had been proposed earlier. A special faculty meeting on Tuesday, December 1, will be devoted to a discussion of the amended language. A vote is scheduled for the December 15, 2020, faculty meeting. Decisions about the statement are the purview of the faculty.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • The faculty amended the Statement of Academic and Expressive Freedom on December 15, 2020: “[The College] may also restrict disparaging or abusive speech (e.g., racial epithets) directed at an individual or group based on their actual or perceived affiliation with a protected class, and for which there is no reasonable academic, educational, or artistic justification.”

14. Reimagine Policing. 

For some time, the College administration has been discussing a shift in the overreliance on the Amherst College Police Department in student life. Without a robust after-hours residential program, the campus police have served as the primary interface with students after hours and on weekends. This has created anxiety among Black students, in particular, but also others. We will shift some resources from ACPD, including student staff and funds for mental health services. We will also begin now to shift the supervision of residence halls and other student spaces to residential life and student affairs. A report on the impact of these changes will be available at the end of the fall 2020 semester.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • Responsibility for considering and developing changes in ACPD and the roles it plays on campus rests with Jim Brassord, Chief of Campus Operations, Chief John Carter, and appropriate members of the senior staff. Their deliberations will be informed by consultation with students, faculty, and staff. Chief Carter has already made changes by removing ACPD from the more central role it has played in monitoring activities in students’ residences and other student spaces. ACPD is no longer present in the residence halls unless called upon to support the CAs (Student Community Advisers) or CDCs (staff Community Development Coordinators) or to respond to police, fire or medical calls. Chief Carter has also initiated work with the Office of Student Affairs to reallocate funding used for armed, sworn police officers to (unarmed, unsworn) security to support residential life staff. This overall re-imagining proposal will be shared with the antiracism student advisory group and with key governance committees and will be made available for comment early next semester. Ultimate decision-making authority for recommended changes rests with the president and requires trustee approval. We expect discussion to last into the spring 2021 semester with decisions no later than the May 2021 board meeting.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • John Carter, Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety, and Jim Brassord, Chief of Campus Operations, have met with the faculty anti-racism leadership group and the student anti-racism advisory group to discuss the outlines of a possible plan. Chief Carter will soon begin sharing the plan and talking with campus constituencies in small groups.
  • The proposed plan, based on input from multiple stakeholders (AAS, BSU, CODEI, anti-racism committees, etc.), proposes a more differentiated response strategy for the College that distributes ACPD's non-policing work, which need not be done by the officers, to appropriate campus partners, including OSA and Facilities. In addition, a new group of non-armed Community Service Officers (CSOs) will be created to perform much of the public safety, security, and service work with funds shifted over a reasonable period of time to the CSO program.

15. Mental Health Support. 

Institutional racism takes a toll on the psychological and physical well-being of students, staff, faculty, and alumni of color. We will provide more resources for those who are struggling with the impact of racism. During the fall semester, the Counseling Center will launch a search for another staff member with expertise in racial trauma. The College is also applying to be a campus partner with the Steve Fund, an organization that addresses racial disparities in mental health practices and resources. We seek to participate in the fund’s Equity in Mental Health on Campus Initiative, a comprehensive needs assessment for students of color. The Counseling Center is also working to increase its telehealth resources.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • Primary responsibility for student mental health rests with the Office of Student Affairs. Amherst was accepted into the Steve Fund’s 2020-21 Equity in Mental Health Initiative. Director of the Counseling Center Jackie Alvarez and Counseling Center Psychotherapist Darien McFadden (team leads), along with Senior Associate Dean of Students Charri Boykin-East, Ernest Collins '23, Chief Student Affairs Officer Karu Kozuma, and Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Angie Tissi-Gassoway recently participated in a two-day retreat with the Steve Fund and the other institutions that are participating this year (Stanford University, Pace University, University of Michigan, Michigan State, and Westminster College). The retreat focused on the steps necessary to support the mental health of students of color, including creating positive change in the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs that end up shaping policy, programs, and practice. Amherst’s team is now developing assessment tools and engaging the community in an effort to identify the needs and the gaps in support of students of color. This work will occur over the next two months. More opportunities for feedback will be announced soon; in the interim, please contact Jackie Alvarez or Darien McFadden with comments and ideas.
  • In response to students’ identification of needs in this area, a search for a Racial Trauma Specialist is underway in the Counseling Center. The search committee members are Jackie Alvarez, Sarah Erickson (Associate Director of the Counseling Center), Darien McFadden, Eun Lee (Assistant Director of Workforce Equity and Inclusive Leadership), and a student representative, Arzoo Rajpar ’22. The committee continues to accept applications and plans to interview candidates in December. 

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • In January and February 2021, the Steve Fund worked with the Amherst College team to analyze anonymized mental health data for our needs assessment. In March and April, the Steve Fund will host focus groups of students, faculty, and staff to further enhance its understanding of mental health support at the College. The Fund will also meet with offices that work closely with students of color, including the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Resource Centers, the Provost’s Office, Health Education, and Athletics. 
  • The search committee for the Racial Trauma Specialist in the Counseling Center determined that the pool of candidates at that time did not meet the needs of the College and Amherst students. They elected to restart the search last month. The committee is meeting the week of March 15 to invite candidates for interviews, which they hope to complete by the end of March.

16. Training and Education. 

Anti-bias training will be required at all levels, from the board of trustees and the senior administration to each major unit of the College, including all administrative and academic departments. Each member of the senior staff is responsible for ensuring anti-bias and anti-racist educational work in the departments within their divisions, reporting annually on the form that work has taken and the difference it has made. This is not, as some believe, an exercise in what to think, but our need to learn and to gain in self-awareness.

The College is currently piloting the First Year Connect program for incoming students in an effort to create a student community that has the skills to engage effectively with their differences. Over the course of this academic year, we will develop a comprehensive program of this kind for all students as well as a new orientation program that focuses on race and racism.

The athletics department will complete a strategic plan to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in athletics by the end of the fall 2020 semester. This strategic plan will include, but not be limited to, ongoing initiatives, including anti-racism workshops for all coaches and the department’s partnership with Allen Hart to train coaches and student-athletes in restorative practices. The department will be held responsible for hiring a diverse coaching staff and coaches will be held accountable for recruiting student-athletes of color. The office of admission and financial aid will be asked to take up the question of how financial pre-reads might help in pursuit of this goal.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • The senior staff has completed two anti-bias workshops, led by Dina Levi, while also actively pursuing other ways to deepen understanding of racism and its systemic forms.
  • The athletics strategic plan is on track to be done at the end of the fall 2020 semester. We expect the plan to be public in advance of the next three-month update on anti-racism updates.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • Senior staff continues to hold regular internal discussions of race, racism, and anti-racism.
  • In support of the College's Anti-Racism Plan and the promise of educational equality, the Office of Financial Aid has begun a financial pre-read process for prospective students. Systems are being designed to support this endeavor, and we are making progress toward a summer launch. We aim to demystify and simplify the financial aid process for families of low income, first generation, and underrepresented populations. 
  • The athletics DEI Plan is complete and will be made available to the College community shortly. The diversity of varsity teams continues to increase. For example, of the recruited student athletes who have been admitted this year to the Class of 2025, 42% identify as domestic students of color.  

17. Office of Diversity and Inclusion. 

Effective August 24, 2020, we will introduce the term equity into the Office of Diversity and Inclusion—it will now be the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Norm Jones will become the Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer. The titles of the Faculty diversity and Inclusion Officers and of Dina Levi will also change: Dina’s title will be Director of Workforce Equity and Inclusive Leadership. The Faculty Diversity and Inclusion Officers will become the Faculty Equity and Inclusion Officers.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • This is complete.

18. Transition from DEI Task Force to a Standing Committee

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • This is complete. The President’s Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is now a permanent standing committee and will explore what would be entailed in becoming a shared governance committee of the College. The president and CEIO Jones are working on a formal charge to the committee and a process for the selection of committee members for the next academic year. It will continue its work in the spring 2021 semester with those who had committed to serving on the task force through this academic year.

19. Iconography and Representation. 

We will immediately establish a committee charged with reimagining our public spaces and ensuring that they reflect the diversity of our community and the achievements of our Black alumni and underrepresented alumni. The committee will issue recommendations at the beginning of the spring 2021 semester in time for decisions and, hopefully, some changes during our bicentennial year.

November 23, 2020 Update:

  • A committee co-chaired by Chief Advancement Officer Betsy Cannon Smith, and Chief of Staff/Secretary of the Board of Trustees Bett Schumacher, and including Catherine Epstein, Norm Jones, Jim Brassord, Mike Kelly, Chief Communications Officer Sandy Genelius, and Senior Director of Advancement Administration & Planning Suzanne Newby-Estes has assumed responsibility for reviewing the many forms of representation on the campus, both historically and currently. On the basis of the inventory and a set of college guidelines for decisions about naming and representation, they will engage students, faculty, staff, and alumni in reimagining our public spaces and developing a plan that honors the many people and events that have given shape to the College. This larger representative group will consider the range of opportunities for such recognition and representation.  A catalog of named spaces, facilities, programs, and pieces is also being compiled as part of this project. Opportunities for involvement in this initiative will be announced early in the spring 2021 semester. Please share your ideas.

March 18, 2021 Update:

  • A group of senior staff members, Mike Kelly, and Marin Amundson-Graham, Director of Donor Relations, is pulling together research materials, inventories, relevant policies, and current peer practices that will be helpful to a committee that will be appointed by the President and Provost to develop the principles that should guide the selection and use of names and forms of representation on the campus.
  • As part of the College’s Bicentennial, the Native and Indigenous Students Association (NISA), led by Sarah Montoya ’21, initiated the design of a formal land acknowledgment plaque on campus. Installation is slated to occur in fall 2021.