Grant Ingle: UMass chancellor’s task force plan ‘deficient’

The University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst.

The University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Published: 07-05-2024 7:36 PM

UMass Amherst Chancellor Javier Reyes has again demonstrated that he should resign. Reyes made the ill-advised decision to call in the State Police in riot gear to arrest students and faculty members peacefully protesting in support of Palestinians. Videos of this event make it clear that State Police in riot gear arresting peaceful protesters looks eerily similar to arrests of peaceful protesters in authoritarian countries like Russia and Georgia. Similarly, the arrests of protesters at UMass sent an unambiguous “might makes right” message completely at odds with the values of a higher education institution.

Now Reyes has announced that he is forming a task force to conduct “a review of police activity … that led to more than 130 arrests….” This task force has two serious deficiencies. First, the task force must focus instead on how the terrible decision to call in the State Police in riot gear came about and what can be done in the future to avoid this option when dealing with peaceful protesters. The task force also must examine how many other campuses came to peaceful resolutions with Palestine protesters this past spring and determine which of those strategies should be adopted by UMass Amherst.

Second, the task force chair will be the vice chancellor of student affairs and campus life. She was possibly involved in the State Police decision and the UMass Police report directly to her. If this task force is to have any credibility, it must be chaired by someone other than an administrator, such as a senior faculty member.

Grant Ingle

Conway

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