Mary Lyon Occupation Ends; Administration and Students Find Common Ground on Core Issues

A Tuesday morning meeting between students and College officials on April 22 yielded progress in reaching a common understanding of core issues about which some students have staged recent protests. At a 4 pm gathering at Gettell Amphitheater, a letter from President Creighton detailing the progress was read. Creighton pledged that "additional ways need to be found for students to have their voices expressed and heard. I promise that along with the many venues by which students have been brought into decision making, there will be additional ways to involve students."

By 9:15 Tuesday evening, all the students occupying Mary Lyon Hall ended the occupation and left the building. Students who remained in Mary Lyon after the 5 pm deadline on Monday have been suspended. They may, however, appeal their suspensions to the dean of students or the Council on Student Affairs.

<<< Occupation ends--Student protesters left Mary Lyon Hall Tuesday evening, after occupying the building since Monday afternoon. Other students negotiated with administrators Tuesday morning, and a joint statement was released to the community at 4 pm Tuesday.
Creighton's letter clarified the administration's position on several issues, and announced a change of policy on the cultural space issue. Those sections of the letter are reprinted below. The positions have not changed since those stated in the memo distributed to the community on Monday on need-blind/need-sensitive admission, mention of standardized test scores in the Plan for MHC 2003, Frances Perkins office, the arts and the fundraising campaign, the arts budget, and credit card payment options.

In closing the letter, Creighton noted, "This has been a tumultuous time for the College as it has grappled with some important and complex issues. I would like to express my heartfelt hope to all members of the community that we will emerge from all of this as a stronger Mount Holyoke, committed to building a community that will be a model for other institutions to follow--after all, that is our legacy."

Clarifications and changes in position as outlined in the April 22 letter follow.

Cultural space [Change in position]: We recognize the need for social and cultural space on campus and we will make a commitment to allocate one separate space each for the Asian and Asian American community and the Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender community. This space will not be in Blanchard or in any basement space or basement rooms. The students and administration will work in close collaboration and will arrive at a mutual understanding of how best to design and allocate these spaces. The space will be available for use by the fall of 1998. Concerns should be directed to Ombudsperson Rochelle Calhoun.

Asian American Studies program [Clarification]: The Dean of the Faculty and Provost's goal is to have an Asian American Studies program in place by the fall of 1998. Mount Holyoke will create this program and will appoint faculty to teach courses that serve that program. As stated in yesterday's memo, the student committee on Asian American Studies will work collaboratively with faculty in planning this program, and will have both voice and vote in decisions about curriculum and appointments. Concerns should be directed to Dean of the Faculty & Provost Peter Berek.

Assistant Dean of Students position [Clarification]: We will maintain the Assistant Dean of Students position and retain its responsibility as an ALANA liaison. Currently, the position has been split into two separate half time positions; the primary responsibility of one position was to serve as a liaison to the ALANA students on campus and the primary responsibility of the second position was to serve as a coordinator of the disability services on campus. In the event that the needs of the ALANA students are not able to be serviced by the person in this position, then another person will be hired to serve in this function. Concerns should be directed to Dean of the College John Rapoport.

Chaplaincy [Clarification]: We will use the Eliot House budget to provide chaplains of varied backgrounds who can serve more of the needs of this spiritually diverse community than have been met in the past. The goal is to have chaplains in place to serve by the fall of 1997. John Grayson has met with all of the current chaplains to discuss their availability and interest in continuing to serve the Mount Holyoke community. During the 1997-1998 year, the search committee (which will be composed of students, faculty, and staff) for the permanent Dean of the Chapel will review the responsibilities and job description for this position. The permanent Dean will be primarily a chaplain, not solely an administrator. Concerns should be directed to Associate Professor of Religion John Grayson.