The official response to recent accounts of rape at Amherst College
AMHERST — Below is a timeline of Amherst College President Carolyn ‘Biddy’ Martin’s response to recent student accounts of rape and sexual assault on campus. Many of the statements referenced here are available online on the college’s website.
Spring 2012: President Martin and other administrators begin reviewing disciplinary and reporting policies on rape and sexual assault, as well as student life at Amherst. Martin decides to hire Gina Smith, an expert in sexual misconduct, to help overhaul policies.
April, 2012: The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights issues a letter to institutions of higher education defining how the federal Title IX law should be applied to their sexual assault hearing process.
July 2012: Smith begins her work at Amherst.
Oct. 8: An article criticizing a t-shirt made by an off-campus fraternity at Amherst, showing a woman clad in a bra and thong, tied up on a spit and roasting over a fire. is published in The Indicator, a college journal of social and political thought. The article is also posted online at the student newspaper.
Oct. 11: College President Martin issues a statement to students about the issues raised by the article, addressing “the importance of a campus culture free of discrimination and harassment and one that does not tolerate or turn a blind eye to rape or sexual assault.”
Oct. 17: Amherst Student newspaper publishes a first-person essay by former student Angie Epifano about being raped by a classmate that also says administrators and counselors failed to support her.
Oct. 18: Martin issues a public statement on Epifano’s account that says in part, “Clearly, the administration’s responses to reports have left survivors feeling that they were badly served. That must change, and change immediately.”
Oct. 25: The college launches a Sexual Respect and Title IX webpage with resources and information.
Oct. 31: Martin announces the formation of a Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct that includes administrators, faculty, trustees and students. Nov. 2: Classes are cancelled and campus offices are closed while Amherst holds a Day of Dialogue for students, faculty and staff.
Nov. 5: The Good Men Project website, with permission, publishes the suicide note of Trey Malone, a former Amherst student who was sexually assaulted on campus in 2011.
Nov. 6: Martin writes an open letter tabout Malone’s suicide that calls on the college community to face the news of his death with “courage, open dialogue and care for one another.”
Sources: Amherst College President’s office; Amherst College website
— BARBARA SOLOW