The sit-in at Frost Library last Thursday was supposed to last an hour. Most of us expected to leave the library at 2 p.m., believing we would make it to our afternoon classes and evening commitments. Instead, many people stayed in the library for nearly four days straight. Students, faculty, staff and administrators stayed for hours to listen to students speak about their experiences of racism and other forms of discrimination at the college. Students of color shared painful experiences of being marginalized and of feeling invisible yet hyper-exposed. In the midst of all these stories of the sadness, anger and exhaustion that many members of our community experience every day, students spontaneously formed a movement to create a more just and inclusive community.
The Amherst Student Editorial Board wholeheartedly supports and respects the bravery and honesty of the students who shared their stories. We strongly support all members of this community who strive to eliminate racial injustice. We share in the movement’s aspiration to create a truly inclusive community and an institution responsive to the needs of all students. Although Amherst is often celebrated for admitting a diverse group of students, this diversity in admissions has not been matched with support on an institutional level. We must do better.
The sit-in officially ended after President Biddy Martin’s statement, but the work to change this institution for the better has only just begun. Our commitment to justice does not stop after we leave Frost. The sit-in continued and grew due to our willingness to listen to and support members of the community who shared their experiences. We must continue listening. In the coming weeks, months and years, we will have to keep grappling with the question of how Amherst can best support students of color and their allies and work toward substantive change. As members of this community, we all have the responsibility to participate in these discussions and to help formulate short- and long-term goals for the college.
We do not have to wait around for another campus-wide discussion with hundreds of students. These conversations can start right now, with a friend over a Val meal, a professor during office hours or members of a club during a weekly meeting. Whatever form these conversations take, we must continue the urgent and important work of creating a more just, equal and inclusive Amherst.