Arlene Kirsch and Hugh L. Guilderson: Students deserve better from UMass chancellor

UMass Amherst campus

UMass Amherst campus GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 05-13-2024 6:30 PM

We are dismayed that UMass Chancellor Javier Reyes thought his job included calling in police to arrest peacefully protesting students, and community members who were there quietly to observe and support the protest. It seems he doesn’t understand some basic notions about leading a university. We read that several witnesses (students and faculty) said, for instance, that he had already called in the police who started arriving during his (Reyes’) “negotiations” with protesters. We also read Reyes’ statement, which implies that he negotiated in good faith. Those two things stand in stark contradiction.

Police always escalate a situation and often insert aggression and violence into a non-violent situation. It is shameful, misguided, and horrifying that Reyes believes this to be an appropriate response to a group that peacefully is exercising their rights on campus.

Further, we are appalled that that our tax dollars are going for this use of police and for this chancellor’s salary.

We would like to know what Reyes expected students to learn about Gaza, democracy, education, or governance with his astonishing heavy-handed and top-down response.

Arlene Kirsch and Hugh L. Guilderson