Amherst College is the latest school to become embroiled in a protests over racial discrimination on campus.
The Amherst, Massachusetts-based school hosted a sit-in on Thursday to support protests at the University of Missouri and to discuss race on campus. The sit-ins drew massive crowds of the student body.
The students then released a list of demands online that more than 50 student groups on campus signed. The demands were largely sweeping condemnations of what some students say is a history of racism on the 194-year-old campus.
Two of the demands called for Amherst President Biddy Martin and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Cullen Murphy to apologise for what the protesting students say is the school’s institutional legacy of white supremacy.
The demands also called for the administrators to apologise for colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latinx racism, anti-Native American racism, anti-Native/ indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Middle Eastern racism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, mental health stigma, and classism.
And the students are demanding that President Martin issue a statement speaking out against students who posted “All Lives Matter” and “Free Speech” posters around campus.
The “Free Speech” posters reference a posters hung on campus that read: “In Memoriam of the True Victim of the Missouri Protests: Free Speech.”
— djvjgrrl (@djvjgrrl) November 13, 2015
“We want to feel at home on campus,” organiser Andrew Lindsay told Business Insider. Lindsay, a black senior at Amherst, went on to explain that many students of colour don’t feel like they have had a space to make theirs and for their voices to be heard on campus.
He also indicated that students are working with and not against the administration, and that so far, administrators have been incredibly supportive.
Still, students are threatening to ratchet up their protests if demands aren’t met quickly. “If these goals are not initiated within the next 24 to 48 hours, and completed by November 18th, we will organise and respond in a radical manner, through civil disobedience,” the online demands say.
The protests have also been met with derision by academics who find the recent uprisings on college campuses to be a dangerous example of free speech being limited.
“We’re seeing a curtain of McCarthyism descend over many college campuses,” Alan Dershowitz, a respected Harvard Law professor, told Fox News.
“The last thing many of these students want is real diversity — diversity of ideas.”
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