Letter to alumni: Please sign and share

Dear fellow Amherst alum:

The attached package of materials is hopefully self-explanatory.

After considerable discussion on the Class of 1970 listserv, six of us corresponded with President Biddy Martin and, having first provided her a list of some 60 co-signers to two of our letters, eventually met with her on September 13. We requested that the College dissociate itself from both the homophobic substance and the intellectual dishonesty of Professor Hadley Arkes’s writings in non-academic publications, in which he regularly chooses to identify himself with the College.

When President Martin declared that she had no “context” for such a declaration, we told her that we would consult a wider cross-section of the Amherst Community, which is what we are doing here.

We sent the attached cover letter and package of materials to Cullen Murphy, chair of the Board of Trustees of the College, on Saturday evening asking him to issue a statement in the name of the College.  His response to me and mine to him are included below.

As stated in the letter to Mr. Murphy, we are soliciting co-signers and asking them to contact Ron Battocchi, who will compile a list and forward it to Mr. Murphy and the other trustees.  If you’d like to co-sign, please identify yourself to Ron as to profession (if you wish), geography, and Amherst class: e.g.  John Greenberg, Bear Bookshop, Marlboro, VT, ’70.

We have contacted every listserv on the alumni directory page, but many classes do not have listservs and many alumni do not join those which do exist.  We therefore solicit your assistance in helping us further distribute this letter to the Amherst College community.  If anyone knows a better way to reach the wider Amherst community (only), we would appreciate any leads.  Otherwise, we would appreciate your sharing this material with members of the Amherst College community who may not have received it.

Questions and comments can, of course, be directed to any of us.

Ronald Battocchi ‘70 (battocchi@comcast.net)
Ernest Craige ‘70 (etacraige@mindspring.com)
John Greenberg ‘70 (jsg1@copper.net)
Warren Mersereau ‘70 (warren.mersereau@gmail.com)
Robert Nathan ‘70 (wkbenchinc@aol.com)
Eric Patterson ‘70 (epatterson@hws.edu)

Post Script: Exchange between Cullen Murphy and John Greenberg

From: Cullen Murphy
Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2013 7:53 AM
To: John Greenberg/The Bear Bookshop
Subject: Re: Request to Amherst College Trustees concerning Professor Hadley Arkes

Dear Mr. Greenberg,

Thank you for your letter. I wanted to let you know that, as requested, I have circulated it to the members of the board of trustees. I hope that you saw Biddy Martin’s statement, which she put out yesterday. It speaks eloquently to the issue, and it speaks for the College.

Sincerely,
Cullen Murphy

From: John Greenberg/The Bear Bookshop
Sent: Wednesday, October 02, 2013 6:27 PM
To: Cullen Murphy

Subject: Re: Request to Amherst College Trustees concerning Professor Hadley Arkes

Dear Cullen Murphy:

I’m delighted to read that you received our letter and circulated it.

At the same time I sent it out, I attempted to begin distributing it to the wider Amherst College community.  The result, in briefest terms, was email pandemonium.  In fact, I’m still in the process of sorting it all out.

I won’t bore you with the details, but for now, what you need to know is that the only listserv to have received our materials is the one for our class: 1970.  That too was blocked and therefore ended up reaching members only on Sunday afternoon, and only after considerable confusion (another long story).  As of this writing, I believe I have successfully sent the materials to the managers of three other class listservs, but have not received any notification that they received what I sent.  I therefore assume that the materials have NOT been distributed to the listservs.

All six of us have read the President’s statement (https://www.amherst.edu/aboutamherst/president/blog), which your message appears to suggest will put an end to the issue.  In due course, we will respond to it in detail.  It suffices at this time to tell you that we see this as the beginning, not the end, of our struggle for justice.

Given that our attempts at distribution to the alumni have failed, the opportunity now presents itself to append your email and this response to the letter we had originally intended to send, so that alums from classes other than ours will see both our materials and the President’s at the same time.  You will then know that any members of those listservs who choose to sign on did so AFTER reading all of the materials (except, of course, our future response to President Martin).

We will also post your email and this reply to the Class of 1970.  Since almost 40 members of the listserv had already signed up as of last night, we invite any who feel that the President’s statement resolves the matter to ask that their names be removed from the list, which we have promised to submit to you in the coming weeks.

Finally, you should know that we are also working on distribution to current students.

We have tried very hard to keep this matter confined to the Amherst College community in the largest sense of the term.  But if the issue remains unresolved long enough, it seems to us inevitable that it will invite attention from the world outside of Amherst College.  In our view, that would reflect badly on the College.

Best wishes,
John Greenberg ‘70

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About Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart, a 40-year journalism veteran, is publisher and an editor of the "Erasing 76 Crimes" and "76 Crimes en français" blogs. More profile information on Google+. Colin Stewart, un vétéran du journalisme de 40 ans, est éditeur et rédacteur en chef des blogs "Erasing 76 Crimes" et "76Crimes en français." Plus d'informations de profil sur Google+.
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One Response to Letter to alumni: Please sign and share

  1. Pingback: How Amherst College blocks dissenters | Amherst Against Homophobia

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