Back from Thanksgiving break, seniors have returned to campus for the tail end of their fall semester. As a graduating class gets ready to approach the “real world,” it is typical for its members to put aside class work and extracurricular activities in favor of bar nights and finding a job. Unfortunately, it can be easy to forget about the community they’ve called home for their most formative years.
Senioritis can also apply to the communal obligations that come with being a student at Amherst. Seniors on their way out may feel like issues no longer pertain to them, since they will not be here long enough to see cultural or structural changes put into place. Yet, the senior class, having lived on campus and been a part of this community for four years, has crucial contributions to make for current and future students. We would argue that it is the obligation of the class of 2016 to participate fully in conversations about campus life, especially in the wake of the Frost sit-in.
Members of the class of 2016 have seen massive changes during their time at Amherst, particularly with regards to student activism. In the fall semester of 2012, the Association of Amherst Students organized the Rally to End Silence and marched with more than 200 students from Amherst and the Five Colleges to the front of Converse Hall to demand change. Since then, activism at Amherst has seen a resurgence, and we’ve had many difficult but important conversations about sexual assault, mental health, racism and other topics. The Frost sit-in and resulting Amherst Uprising movement would not have been possible without this resurgence in activism.
Many members of the class of 2016 have played key roles in the conversations about race and racism that have been going on at Amherst. But these conversations would be enriched even more if a greater number of seniors added their voices. (And, on the flip side, it’s important for newer members of the community to speak up too: First-years come to Amherst with fresh eyes and have valuable perspectives that need to be shared.)
By virtue of the experience and knowledge the class of 2016 has of this campus and the changes it has undergone, its members are in a prime position to share their experiences and contribute to cultural and structural change. Just because you will soon move on from Amherst does not mean that the changes here will not affect you. And, even if they don’t affect you, they will affect this community. Each of us has an obligation to leave this campus a better place for the students who come after us.