Letter from the Department of American Studies

We, the faculty of the American Studies Department, write in support of those students who this week have demonstrated in solidarity with other students at campuses nationwide who are protesting racism.

The testimony you and scores of other students have provided in Frost Library about your experiences at Amherst clearly demonstrate that Amherst remains an institution where people of color too often are marginalized and silenced. We are concerned that this presents an unsafe environment that is antithetical to intellectual exchange.

We have been pained, humbled by your individual stories. And we urge other students, faculty, staff, and alumni to listen to your testimonies and to engage in a meaningful and ongoing dialogue about issues of racism and inclusion on this campus. We understand and appreciate the depth of your knowledge, experience and analysis of these issues; and we invite our community to listen, not only out of compassion, but also from our inherent responsibility to learn from each other.

Amherst College has made an admirable commitment to creating a student body that truly reflects American society and to offering the tremendous benefits of an Amherst education to many who in the past could never had dreamed it possible. But, we must work to realize the potential of that diversity: to educate each other and, thus, make us all more aware and respectful of others’ lives and perspectives. That is no easy task. We urge all members of the campus community to contribute in that effort.

We commit ourselves as a department to take a leadership role in organizing opportunities, both in and outside the classroom, that will move that conversation forward, fostering dialogue, listening and exchange, so that this moment may become a transformative one in the history of the college.

In solidarity,

Robert T. Hayashi, Chair
Frank Couvares
Karen Sánchez-Eppler
Lisa Brooks
Solsiree Del Moral
Leah Schmalzbauer
Wendy Bergoffen
Kiara Vigil
Molly Mead
Franklin Odo