UMass Amherst responds to fourth racist incident in 2 months

AMHERST, Mass. — UMass Amherst PD is trying to figure out who wrote racist language on a Black student’s dry erase board hanging outside their dorm room.

With the continuing racial tension, it’s getting to the point where the Black students are asking how they are supposed to learn if they are having to constantly look over their shoulder.

“I’m sick and tired, I’m fed up,” said UMass student Zach Steward. “I’m exhausted. I’m just trying to get my degree in peace.”

Several students protested on campus Thursday and took a list of demands to the chancellor’s office after word got out about the September 24 incident of racial graffiti on a Black student’s dorm room door.

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“We demand that within students’ first year on campus, they undergo racial and unconscious bias training,” one protester yelled in the mic.

Many of the students protesting are going into debt, paying thousands of dollars to get an education at UMass Amherst, but said it’s getting harder to focus on learning when they have to protest for basic needs like their mental and physical safety.

“My world stops continuously, and I’m just expected to act like nothing’s wrong,” Steward said.

Already this year the school has also dealt with a racist letter sent to Black organizations, an application to a Black organization with racist language, and someone yelling racist language to a group of Black students.

“Honestly, I don’t really feel safe on this campus. It’s been affecting mental health severely and a lot of Black students,” one student said, explaining why she wanted to remain anonymous. “It’s discouraging. The chancellor wasn’t even there because he knew that we were coming, so he left his office and did not show up; and then the vice-chancellor locked the doors.

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“They said that they want to see change and you then just walk away and lock the doors from us. That just shows the opposite, you don’t care.”

We reached out to the university today and got this statement on this latest dorm room incident:

“Anonymous incidents of this kind are difficult to solve when there are no witnesses. Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to report it to UMPD,” said a spokesperson at the office of News and Media Relations.

In regard to the locked doors, the university said staff did speak individually with students. As for the list of demands, the university said it will be reviewing them.

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