The past two semesters saw a huge resurgence of student activism and much encouraging work to make the college a better place. The most notable example of student activism was Amherst Uprising, which sparked conversation typically rare to our campus. The movement brought crucial issues to the forefront, yet on a campus marked by the stress of academics and extracurriculars, it’s hard for overburdened students to sustain the same level of high energy activism. It’s increasingly difficult to maintain this wave of activism as we near the end of the school year and prepare to head off to varying places for varying work. How do we best continue the momentum of these conversations into the upcoming academic year and communicate the importance of this work to the incoming classes?
There’s no question that the incoming class will have seen various media reports of the events of last semester, but it’s crucial that their understanding of student protests be shaped by members of the community. There are a variety of conflicting reports on social media, so it is imperative that incoming students gain the perspective of students who had this experience. That’s why Amherst Uprising and the conversations it sparked should be discussed as key elements in orientation programming. Orientation week is foundational in shaping incoming classes and centering student activism within this week will ensure that the progress made is only furthered as students come and go.
For current students who will be spending time away from the college over the summer, the onus is on them to ensure that these conversations continue within their new places of work, helping to spread these ideas to the larger community. Activism doesn’t stop because we’ve stepped off the safe, contained college campus. In order for the momentum of these movements to continue, we must bridge the gap between the Amherst bubble and the outside world and let the great work being done on our campus flourish into the larger community. Carrying the messages of important conversations on campus to our homes is another way to not only spread, but further our own understanding of student activism on campus. This could be a critical step toward molding our new lessons with our backgrounds and world outside of Amherst.
The cyclical nature of life at Amherst makes it challenging to get movements like this off the ground and works to perpetuate the inadequacies of the college. Members of the senior class, who were largely influential in sparking these conversations, will graduate in a few short weeks. The makeup of the campus will change with this shift and likely many of the same problems will arise again. It’s crucial that the summer months do not serve as a hindrance to student activism. Now that the student body has garnered awareness, it’s important to maintain momentum and allow this work to trickle down for generations of Amherst students to come.