LTE: Condemning UMASS Response to Student Protest Published on June 11, 2024

Letter to the Editor: 

Condemning the UMass Response to Student Protest 

The Peace Development Fund is deeply troubled by the recent events at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The violent arrests of students peacefully protesting the ongoing genocide in Gaza are a blatant violation of their First Amendment rights and a betrayal of the university’s commitment to open discourse. 

Chancellor Reyes’ justification for the arrests, citing disruption of Founder’s Day festivities, pales in comparison to the gravity of the issue at hand. The university should be fostering dialogue about human rights abuses, not silencing dissent with force. The selective enforcement of policies, as seen in the contrast between this response and past protests, raises serious concerns about the administration’s true motivations. 

We urge Chancellor Reyes and the UMass administration to: 

  • Immediately drop all charges against the arrested protestors. 
  • Open a transparent dialogue with student groups about their concerns regarding the situation in Gaza. 
  • Re-evaluate policies surrounding peaceful protest on campus to ensure the protection of free speech. 

The university has a responsibility to stand with its students in their pursuit of justice. We call on the UMass administration to live up to its ideals and promote peace, not silence, in the face of oppression. 


The Board of Directors, Peace Development Fund 

Letter to the Chancellor: 

Subject: Urgent Action Needed: Condemnation of Violence Against Peaceful Protestors 

Dear Chancellor Reyes, 

The Peace Development Fund writes to you today to express our profound dismay at the recent use of excessive force by police against peaceful protestors at the UMass Amherst encampment. The arrests of students, faculty, and community members advocating for an end to the genocide in Gaza are a clear violation of their First Amendment rights and a chilling message to those who dare raise their voices for justice. 

We are particularly troubled by: 

  • The disproportionate police response to a peaceful demonstration. 
  • The targeting of faculty and even a minor for arrest. 
  • The selective enforcement of campus policies compared to past protests. 

These actions undermine the core values of academic freedom and open discourse that a university should uphold. We urge you to take immediate steps to rectify this situation, including: 

  • Publicly condemning the use of violence against protestors. 
  • Issuing a full apology to those arrested. 
  • Establishing a clear and transparent process for addressing student concerns about the situation in Gaza. 
  • Reviewing and revising university policies to ensure the protection of peaceful protest activities. 

The Peace Development Fund is committed to fostering peace and advocating for human rights. We believe that UMass Amherst can play a vital role in promoting these values by engaging in a constructive dialogue with its students and community. We urge you to take the necessary steps to restore trust and ensure a safe space for peaceful dissent on campus. 


The Board of Directors, Peace Development Fund 

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