We support the students who planned a week of activities around the theme #Black Lives Matter. These events, at Amherst College and other campuses across the country, increase awareness about police brutality against minority communities. Moreover, they address issues that figure prominently in many of our political science courses, including state violence, justice and the rule of law, government accountability, racial profiling, political protest, and social movements. Such events enable students, even beyond the classroom, to address questions that are central to a democratic society.
We worry that the defacing and covering up of posters for #Black Lives Matter last week has resulted in the inhibition of academic freedom, silencing certain voices and views on campus. Open dialogue should matter to all members of an intellectual community. It is crucial that we all be able to express our opinions without restricting others. Following the Black Studies Department, we express our deep solidarity with those students who have sought to bring such issues to our college. We hope this will be the beginning—not the end— of our joint reflections.