IOIT: Peer institutions announce fall plans as July approaches

Over the past month, many of the College’s peer institutions have announced their plans on whether or how to return to campus for the fall semester. President Maud S. Mandel committed to making an announcement about the College’s plans by July 1, and as that date draws near, the Chronicle of Higher Education has compiled a list of the plans released by over 1,000 colleges and universities. According to their tracker as of Tuesday night, 64 percent of colleges are planning for an in-person semester, 16 percent are proposing a hybrid model, 7 percent are considering a range of scenarios, 8 percent of are planning for an online semester and 5 percent still waiting to decide.

Mandel outlines College’s commitment to racial justice, faces renewed criticism

After more than two weeks of pressure from students, alums and other members of the College community, President Maud S. Mandel released on Friday an outline of actionable steps the College will take to fight racial and social injustice. The initiatives are divided into four categories—people, philanthropy, partnerships and programming—and Mandel said each will continue to develop in the coming weeks and months.
In response to calls from community members to put the College’s financial resources to use to support Black communities amid nationwide protests against police brutality, as Amherst and Bowdoin have done, Mandel committed in her email to investing “at least $500,000 over the next five years to specifically support racial justice organizations and efforts nationally and in our region” under the umbrella of “philanthropy.”

Admission yield remains normal despite pandemic

Despite uncertainty surrounding the next academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the yield of students admitted to the class of 2024 was 46 percent, similar to previous years. The matriculating class’ demographics, the admissions office’s use of the waitlist and the preliminary number of students requesting a gap year have also all remained similar to previous years. These figures, however, are still subject to change, as students have until a week after President Maud S. Mandel announces whether classes will resume on-campus in the fall to decide whether or not to take a gap year before matriculating.

College to distribute CARES Act funding to qualifying students

In mid-July, the College will disburse the first half of the $1.5 million in federal funds made available by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to students receiving financial aid who will be enrolled during the 2020-21 academic year. The funds are part of the $14 billion allocated to institutions of higher education in the act, which provides a total of over $2 trillion in economic relief and was signed into law on March 27. 

Several universities – including Harvard, Princeton and Yale – recently returned the funds after receiving criticism for accepting federal relief given their multi-billion-dollar endowments.

Williamstown protest calls attention to anti-Black racism, policing in Berkshires

As chants of “no justice, no peace” and “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA” erupted in Field Park, drivers passing by the roundabout honked their horns in support, many stopping to pump their fists or to shout words of affirmation. 

Hundreds attended a Williamstown protest on Friday in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, both drawing broad attention to police violence and anti-Black racism nationwide, and specifically highlighting policing in the Berkshires. Beyond Williamstown, protests continued across the Berkshires and the country in light of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd while in custody. 

Residents of Berkshire County, including students, faculty and staff at the College, gathered in Field Park for the rally, which began at 4:30 p.m. An hour into the rally, dozens of protesters participated in a die-in, lying down on the roundabout for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time that Chauvin pinned his knee against Floyd’s neck, killing him by asphyxiation.

College faces criticism for response to national BLM movement as Amherst establishes matching campaign

At a time when predominantly white institutions across the nation are responding to widespread protests denouncing police brutality and anti-Black racism, members of the Williams community — particularly students and alums — are placing increased pressure on the College administration to hold itself accountable for what they see as its delayed and limited support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

Presence of state police in Berkshire County grows, as officials cite concerns of ‘outside agitators’

Increased numbers of state police troopers have been stationed in Berkshire County in the past few days as part of a statewide plan responding to what state law enforcement officials say are reports of ‘outside agitators’ moving into rural communities. This plan comes in light of protests in response to a police officer’s killing of George Floyd while in custody, including a peaceful demonstration in Pittsfield attended by hundreds on Saturday. 

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) notified Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch ’95 of the plan on Tuesday.