Skip to content

Amherst College

Undergraduate School

Mailing Address
220 South Pleasant Street
Amherst, Massachusetts 01002
(413) 542-2000
Email address
School Information
"Amherst students have access to 40 majors, an open curriculum, talented and accessible faculty, the Five College Consortium, and opportunities for research and internships around the world. "We are known for our open curriculum, a bold experiment in place since 1971. To graduate, students must take four years of classes, but just one first-year seminar and the required classes for their major. In conjunction with their academic advisors, students plan a program of study to discover their intellectual and creative passions and equip themselves for a life of active, collaborative learning." (Source:
General Information
Amherst College has taken a wide range of actions. In addition to requiring anti-bias training and reconsidering its naming policies of on-campus buildings, the college has also funded the Center for Restorative Practices, as well as defunding its campus police. Furthermore, the code of conduct is undergoing revision to prohibit "identity-based harassment". Students, faculty, and staff will be required to undergo anti-bias training. See developments below:

Actions Taken

Anti-Racism, Bias, and Diversity Training
  • Faculty, Staff, and Students will all be required to undergo anti-bias training. First-year students will undergo such training as part of their “First-year Connect” program.
  • Faculty will undergo curriculum development training with “specific attention to race and racism” to create “inclusivity-focused examples of innovation."
  • The school announced, "The College is currently piloting the First Year Connect program for incoming students in an effort to create a student community that has the skills to engage effectively with their differences. Over the course of this academic year, we will develop a comprehensive program of this kind for all students as well as a new orientation program that focuses on race and racism."
Curriculum Changes and Requirements
  • The Provost's webpage reads, "Individually and together, departmental colleagues are encouraged to learn more about past and present racism especially in the United States and, as necessary, beyond our borders. Colleagues are urged to consider how racism has structured their areas of expertise, disciplinary fields, and modes of inquiry. They are also encouraged to consider how this learning might inform pedagogy, course offerings, and departmental curricula, and major requirements." Additionally, the Provost encouraged departments "to engage internal and outside experts to advise them on ways to identify, adapt, and implement anti-racist practices specific to their work. Academic departments are encouraged to seek advice on the structure and requirements of their major(s), and general course offerings, from anti-racist perspectives."
  • The school announced, "Anti-racist pedagogy conversation circles began in Feb. 2021, facilitated by the faculty equity and inclusion officers and the Center for Teaching and Learning, with the goal of working together to better understand how to create a fully inclusive learning culture at Amherst." Additionally, a curricular subcommittee has presented "a working proposal for strengthening students’ education in race and racism to faculty in March 2021 for initial feedback; the proposal has been well-received by many and the subcommittee members continue to revise the proposal and seek feedback from numerous smaller meetings of faculty, a meeting with instructional staff, and a meeting with the student anti-racism advisory group." In October 2021, the school announced, "All academic departments need to prepare a report for the provost’s office by the end of this semester on their anti-racism initiatives--curricular changes, pedagogical changes, programming, etc."
Disciplinary Measures
  • The student code will be revised to incorporate policies and procedures pertaining to identity-based harassment and discrimination. Bias-reporting systems will also be implemented. Academic Freedom will be reexamined.
  • The school announced, "Beginning in February, 2021, there will be a portal through which complaints of identity-based harm, including bias incidents, harassment, and discrimination, can be submitted and reviewed by a team of professional staff and faculty." It also said, "The College has a revised Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy, an updated Student Code of Conduct, a revised Statement of Academic and Expressive Freedom, a revised Title IX Policy and related procedures, a revised Section 504 Disability Grievance Procedure, and a new Center for Restorative Practices that will implement a bias reporting and response protocol."
  • The College's faculty amended the "Statement of Academic and Expressive Freedom" to read, "[The College] may also restrict disparaging or abusive speech (e.g., racial epithets) directed at an individual or group based on their actual or perceived affiliation with a protected class, and for which there is no reasonable academic, educational, or artistic justification.”
Faculty/Staff Requirements
  • The Provost's office will "Provide administrative structures for the implementation of this plan, including opportunities for discussion and collaboration across departments in the provost’s division" and "Provide necessary funding for external consultants and reviewers, whenever possible."
  • The school said, "Anti-bias training will be required at all levels, from the board of trustees and the senior administration to each major unit of the College, including all administrative and academic departments."
Program and Research Funding
  • Center for Restorative Practices, now past its pilot stage, will provide conflict resolution and community building training.
  • The school said, "The Presidential Scholars Program brings some of the most distinguished voices in the area of anti-racist scholarship and policy to Amherst for short-term residencies. During their time at Amherst, visiting scholars will present a public lecture in the President’s Colloquium on Race and Racism, hold seminars, and meet with students, faculty, and staff."
  • The college launched "A Racial History of Amherst" to conduct a "broad and deep historical study of the College’s ties to slaveholding." The school said, "The Racial History of Amherst College Steering Committee has established The Racial History of Amherst College, a website chronicling student research into the history of race and racism at Amherst... This fall the students will research the college's early financial history, with the goal of determining links between the College's early finances and slavery."
  • The school said, "Twenty-six faculty members from disciplines across the College received stipends over the summer to integrate anti-racist content and pedagogy into existing or new courses. The provost will receive reports on their work in November."
Re-Imagining Policing
  • Campus police will be defunded, with resources going towards other programs, like mental health.
  • The college president "may decide... on potentially permanent changes to the full-time 15-member Amherst College Police Department," according to media reports.
  • The Campus Safety Advisory Committee and Center for Restorative Practices are "holding a series of restorative circles all semester focused on 'Reimagining Policing.'' The Committee is also collecting information about and assessing alternative campus safety models. Based on all of this input, the Committee will develop various options for campus safety structures and present these to Biddy and the senior leadership by the end of the fall semester."
  • The college hosted an "On Practicing Anti-racism: Convo with Choral Conductors and Musical Leaders" event.
  • The school has a "Student Anti-Racism Advisory Committee."
  • The school offers resources, such as "Anti-Racism Resource for White People and Parents," Carol Anderson's "White Rage," and "Being Anti-Racist."
  • The college library has a "Racial Justice Resource Guide" with sections on "Anti-Racism" and "Understanding Whiteness."
  • The Provost’s Anti-Racism Leadership Group drafted the "Provost's Division Anti-Racism Action Plan."
  • The Provost will also "Provide opportunities for growth, development, and learning for staff and faculty," including "Support for individual and cohort activities around anti-racism professional development" and "Support for programming (lectures, workshops, and other activities) that support anti-racism learning for all members of our community."
  • The Board of Trustees formally added the "Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion," which will be "focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion," to its by-laws.
  • The college is looking to fill a "Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer position." Furthermore, "Each division within the College has created its own Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals, which have been reviewed by the College’s Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion."
  • The school announced, "The President’s Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is now a permanent standing committee and will explore what would be entailed in becoming a shared governance committee of the College."
  • The school hosted several Anti-Racist programs and speakers in 2020-2021. The "President’s Colloquium on Race and Racism" featured Ibram X. Kendi. The school also had "1619 and the Legacy that Built America: a Conversation with Nikole Hannah-Jones."
Symbolic Actions
  • Public spaces will be “re-imagined.”
  • The school said, "The senior staff has benefited over the course of the semester from internal discussions of race and racism, from two workshops designed specifically for the senior team..."
  • The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has been renamed to be the "Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion."
Last updated March 27th, 2024
©2024 Critical Race Training in Education. All rights reserved.