Move the CES Out of the Police Building

In a public letter, a coalition of student groups comes together to call on members of the administration to relocate the Center for Sustainability from the Amherst College police department to a more centralized, inclusive campus location.

Dear President Martin, Dean Epstein, and Chief of Campus Operations Brassord,

We are writing to you today to express the urgency of relocating the Center for Sustainability out of the Amherst College police station and to a more central, interim location on campus until it can be housed permanently in the new student center. The location of the CES has a significant impact on the student body, campus life, and the environmental movement on campus. As such, we wish to make our voices heard.

Historically, the CES has been located in the Service Center, known more commonly among students as the campus police station. It is our understanding that the college has not yet identified an alternative location for the CES when it reopens in January. However, keeping the CES in the police station would go against the CES’s values and compromise its effectiveness. We are also disappointed that, based on a meeting this week between Environmental Studies (ENST) faculty and members of the administration, there is currently no plan to relocate the CES to the new student center, despite promises made in March 2021  in a meeting between Provost and Dean of the Faculty Catherine Epstein, Chief of Campus Operations Jim Brassord, and ENST faculty and students, which were reaffirmed in a recent meeting of all faculty. . Housing the CES in the new student center is necessary to bring environmental sustainability to every interested student and into every aspect of student life. The CES’s location in the police station has never been an acceptable location for a student-facing center — which students and the ENST department have emphasized repeatedly — both because it sends a message that students of color are not welcome in environmental spaces and because it is far from student life.

Keeping the CES in the police station ensures that it is not the safe, accessible, inclusive environment it must be. The racial discrepancies in treatment at the hands of police officers, and the racially-discriminatory legacy of the Amherst College Police Department (ACPD) on campus, make it such that some students — especially students of color — are not comfortable interacting with the ACPD. Policing is regarded by many students and members of our campus community as an institution that is meant to uphold white supremacy. Maintaining a physical association between the CES and the ACPD would exclude students of color from environmental spaces on campus and promote ongoing white dominance in environmentalism, dynamics which are already present on our campus, as the Environmental Studies Student Steering Committee highlighted last spring.

Furthermore, the location of the police station at the edge of campus prevents the CES from forming close ties with Amherst students. To ensure that environmental spaces on campus are intersectional, it is vital that the CES be in a more central location so that it may facilitate collaboration between groups on campus. We believe that the CES must work closely with the resource centers on campus, such as the Multicultural Resource Center, the Class and Access Resource Center, and the Queer Resource Center, to bring attention to the different ways climate change and environmental degradation interact with systemic oppression. This kind of collaboration necessitates close relationships, and will be enhanced if the CES is housed in a student-facing location. If the college is serious about its commitment to climate action and environmental sustainability, it will reflect this by placing the CES at the heart of student life.

In addition, because there are only two CES employees at this time, there are many student-centered spaces on campus that could house the center until the new student center is constructed. These include the Science Center, Keefe Campus Center, Valentine Hall, or Frost Library, which has several offices and meeting rooms in the Center for Humanistic Inquiry on the second floor, and on the A-level.

While we applaud the college’s commitment to environmental sustainability, it must make that commitment for all students. Keeping the CES in the campus police station will make it less accessible physically and less welcoming socially for many students, especially students of color. It is time for the college to uphold its promise and move the CES to a new location immediately, with plans to ultimately locate it within the new student center.

Thank you for your time, and we look forward to the administration making good on its promise.



Amherst Environmental Justice Alliance

Amherst Divestment Coalition

Amherst Labor Alliance

Amherst College Multicultural Student Union


Sam Schulz ’22

Susannah Auderset, ENST ’23

Becky Kendall, ENST ’22

Anika Grimsrud, ENST '24

Jeanyna Garcia ENST’ 23

Claire Taylor, ENST ’23

Connor Barnes ’25

Nathaniel Ashley '22

Kathleen Harris ’23

Grace Cho ’23E

Dena Ahmed, ENST ’23E

Hibiscus Zhang ’25

Melani Garcia ’25

Alexis Scalese ’22

Francisco Chong ’23

Nyla Guadalupe ’23

Luke Ortiz-Whittingham '25

Yasmin Hamilton ’24

Susanna Feldman '23

Anna Hogarth, ENST ’23

Noah Solomon '22

Amadis Mia Castro ’25

Alysa Yabe ’25

Jazmine Willis ’25

Melanie Huq ’25

Anne Marie Langan, ENST ’22

Jonah Horowitz ’22

Bethany Letendre ’22

Jennifer Garcia ’22

Catherine Charnoky, ENST ’24

Telmo Gonzalez ’22

Andrés Peña ’23

Jack Stephens ENST ’23

Tristan Moore ’24

David Formica '23E

Eva Nelson '22

Meenakshi Jani, ENST ’23

Kauila Tengan, ENST ’22

Sirus Wheaton ’23