To the Editor:
Re “With Diversity Comes Intensity in Amherst Free-Speech Debate” (news article, Nov. 29):
For many students of color, at Amherst College and elsewhere, it is not uncommon to feel a continuous sense of homelessness. “Are you sure this space is really mine?” we ask. “They tell me that it is, but I feel so uncomfortable.”
Student activists are pressing college administrators to make homes out of such homelessness — learning spaces from alienation. Instead of unfairly curtailing free speech, their demands hope for the opposite: the creation of spaces and community norms that affirm individual dignity and equality. This isn’t merely a free-speech issue but an equal justice one as well.
Amherst College students are not in favor of summarily sanctioning anyone from our community. Students merely hope to prevent behaviors that cause racial injury in an inclusive, restorative way for both parties. Our administration may not be able to change a person’s thinking about certain issues, but it can create spaces for parties to reflect on their behavior in a respectful way.
The writer is a member of Amherst’s class of 2016 and an emerging fellow of equal justice at the Roosevelt Institute.