Mammoth Moments in Miniature: March 2 to March 8

Mammoth Moments in Miniature provides quick updates on notable campus news that occurred during the week. In this week’s installment: college provides update on CAP, UMass lifts indoor mask mandate, and more.

College Provides Update on Climate Action Plan

On March 4, Chief of Campus Operations Jim Brassord, Director of Design and Construction Tom Davies, and Director of Sustainability Wes Dripps provided an update to the college’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), which commits to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. The college had previously explained that the transformation of the college’s infrastructure to be completely based on renewable energy was interrupted by “pandemic-related market complications” and supply chain issues. Although these will delay the project, the most recent update expressed confidence that the transformation will still be completed by 2030.

The extra design time from the delayed start has allowed for increased planning to “[identify] opportunities to reduce capital costs for the new system with minimal compromise to both life-cycle costs and … carbon footprint.” The new plan will use air and ground-source heat pump technology to enhance efficiency and flexibility, and reduce costs by not sizing the system to handle extreme peak loads. The college will employ carbon offsets for any residual emissions from peak demands, in order to meet its commitment to carbon neutrality.

An open session will be held in March for community members with questions or thoughts on the plan.

Spring Break Travel Testing Plan Announced

Community Health and Safety communicated Spring Break testing protocols in an email sent on March 3. Students staying on campus will test on Sunday, March 13, and Wednesday, March 16. Students leaving campus during Spring Break are “strongly encouraged” to administer a rapid antigen test — which will be available for students to pick up at the Testing Center during testing hours on Thursday, March 10 — before returning to campus. Additionally, all students are required to test as early as possible on Sunday, March 20.

College Hosts Winter Festival for Students

The college’s annual Winter Festival, hosted by President Biddy Martin, was held at Coolidge Cage and Orr Rink on Sunday, March 6. At the festival, students enjoyed ice skating, an inflatable slide, food by local eateries, ice sculptures, and a performance from a capella group The Filharmonic.

Housing Process Timeline Released

The Office of Student Affairs has announced the timeline for the fall housing selection process. The general Housing Selection Process will occur for students between April 12 and 14, while theme housing applications will close on March 9 following open houses. All non-graduating students will be expected to move out of their rooms by May 25, and all graduating students will be expected to move out by May 29. Housing on campus between the semester’s end and the summer will be limited due to reunions, but will be available for students with extenuating circumstances.

UMass Amherst Ends Indoor Mask Mandate

Effective 7 a.m. on Wednesday, March 9, face coverings will be optional for indoor spaces on the UMass Amherst campus. The university will continue to provide free KN95 masks to anyone who would like to continue wearing them. UMass is the first of the Five Colleges to lift its indoor mask mandate. Masks will still be required at UMass’ health facilities and on PVTA buses.

AAS Announces Creation of Sexual Violence Task Force

The Association of Amherst Students (AAS) has created a task force to “address sexual violence,” as per a March 8 email. The AAS is soliciting student recommendations on how to move forward through an anonymous survey. The AAS also acknowledged allegations of sexual misconduct against former and current Senators made via the @amherstshareyourstory Instagram account and promised to “continue to work … to change the culture within the Senate and to help change the culture surrounding sexual respect in our community.” The email directed students to the Resignations and/or Removals Article of the AAS Constitution and encouraged students to seek removal for any AAS official they would like to hold accountable.