Letter to the Editor from President Martin

President Carolyn “Biddy” Martin writes in to update the student body.

This is an extraordinary time at Amherst College, one that demands all of the resources we can muster, both from within our community and from outside. In an effort to ensure that all members of this community (students, faculty and staff) have the resources they need to feel safe and supported, I am bringing to campus Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, Ph.D., Director of College Mental Health Programs at McLean Hospital, a nationally renowned mental health treatment center in Belmont, Mass. Dr. Pinder-Amaker and a team of experts from McLean will arrive in Amherst this evening and will be with us from tonight through the weekend, and possibly beyond, to offer their services. More information on how, when and where to meet with Dr. Pinder-Amaker and her team is forthcoming. I encourage students to make use of this team. We are also organizing additional educational programming.

To improve communications with the community, our new Sexual Respect website was launched today. The link is: https://www.amherst.edu/aboutamherst/sexual_respect. It prominently features policies and actions which have been requested, and some of which have already been taken. The website is new and does not yet include all the ideas that are under consideration. It has a suggestion link to allow all community members to offer solutions and ideas. It also has an action checklist to hold us all accountable.

As you know, we asked an outside consultant, Gina Maisto Smith, a partner at Ballard Spahr LLP, to review the College’s Title IX and sexual-misconduct policies and practices and provide recommendations. This review is on-going and will inform the work of the Title IX Committee. Ms. Smith is also reviewing the college’s response to the student whose first-person account was printed in The Student last week.

I am in the process of forming a special committee that will include faculty, staff, students, alumni and trustees to help assess our needs and oversee the process of change. This committee will make recommendations to me, and I, in turn, will report to the board in January. Addressing sexual misconduct and violence could not be a higher priority. I thank our students for coming forward and demanding action; I encourage them to continue to do so. Amherst College should be a model of education, prevention and effective response.