student in media lab

Chapter 10: Student Activism

* Student Workers Coalition (1988)
* Community Work Program Proposal (1991)
* Sexpression/X-Plicit Players (1992)
* The Yurt (1995)

Student Workers Coalition, 1988

To: All Students
From: The Student Workers Coalition

As many of you know, the Student Wage Task Force, consisting of Trey Williams, Kathy Methot, staff, faculty, and students, has been charged by President Adele Simmons with making a recommendation to her concerning student workers issues.

First and foremost the recommendation concerning our wage has been put forth as $4.25 effective March 1, 1988 with an increase to $4.75 effective July 1, 1988.

The other recommendations include that there continue to be NO graduated pay scale, that a student run Grievance Committee be formally recognized by the Administration, that office space be provided, in the Airport Lounge, for a student run employment resource/advising center, and that unfilled jobs resulting from the reduction of hours worked after the raise becomes effective, be considered to become community service.

These recommendations became official Friday, Feb. 25, 1988. Our demand now is that Adele unconditionally accept the recommendations before March 1.

On Monday, Feb. 29, while Ad-Com (Adele and the rest of the top administrators) is meeting to decide whether or not to accept our demands, we will be holding a rally in the library quad beginning at noon.

Regardless of the outcome of the meeting, we are planning an S.W.C. emergency meeting, Monday night at 7:30 in the airport lounge to discuss our next moves. If the recommendations aren't accepted, we will need to plan our actions for Tuesday. At this time a one day walk-out is being considered. We hope it does not come to this but we must show the administration we are serious.

With enough support from the community and enough solidarity among the workers we can make Adele give us the raise we deserve!

The S.W.C. fully supports the actions and demands of S.O.U.R.C.e. We encourage all student workers to give their full energies and support in the ongoing effort to meet the demands.



To: Student Workers
From: Adele Simmons
Date: March 1, 1988

Last fall a number of you brought to the attention of the administration a range of concerns relating to student work on campus.

At that time I asked Trey Williams to form a task force to consider grievance procedures, the question of whether people would be paid different wages under any circumstances, the standards for reasonable number of hours worked, and the procedures for filling chronically vacant student worker positions. I also asked the task force to review proposals relating to student wages. The task force completed its work and issued its report yesterday. It recommended that there be no shift differential or seniority pay. It recommended that the administration consider a special pay scale for certain major holidays, and that it consider proposals from Community Council for strengthening grievance procedures and for greater student involvement in the process. It supported proposals for a student-run employment resource center, and, in an effort to address the problem of chronic vacancies, the task force suggested that non-aid students be eligible to fill positions as a part of their community service requirement. This particular recommendation needs to be considered and acted upon by the senate. The Task Force also recommended that student wages be reviewed annually in the normal budget-making process.

Each of these recommendations has been accepted, but there are still some outstanding issues that the task force needs to address.

The principal area of controversy is the student wage. The task force was asked to review and comment on proposals for wage increases, but it did not have the authority to make a final decision. The responsibility for budgetary decisions for 1987-88 rests with the administration, since changes can only be made in the context of the total Hampshire budget. The first step in the process for consideration of a wage increase for 1988-89 lies with the budget and priorities committee of the senate. The committee includes students, faculty, and staff, and it is taking its role in forming next year's budget very seriously. For the administration to act on any part of the FY '89 budget before hearing the recommendations of that committee would be undermining the consultative process that is much valued within the community.

My understanding is that student workers have made their case to the budget and priorities committee already, and that their views are being taken into consideration.

It is important to put in context this year's recommendation for an immediate wage increase from the current $3.75 to $4.25. First, the trustees have appropriately requested that the college conclude the year with a balanced budget. This follows three years of substantial, but declining deficits, and it is important, not only for the financial stability of the college but essential to our fund-raising effort. Donors do not give to colleges with recurring deficits. Because of an increase in expenses and a decline in revenues, both unanticipated, the college at one point faced a $100,000 shortfall for this year. In an effort to cut this to a more modest figure, we asked every part of the college to reduce expenditures by 2 percent, and we have said that no existing job vacancies can be filled until the next fiscal year begins. in short, we are asking the community to make sacrifices in order to balance this year's budget.

At the same time, I asked Allen Torrey to assess the impact of an increase in student wages on the current budget in light of these circumstances. Allen believes that an increase from $3.75 to $4.00 can be managed, but that an increase beyond that would jeopardize our ability to achieve balance. In addition, a greater increase now might not be viewed favorably by those who are in the process of making the 2 percent reductions.

I believe that the proposed increase--the only mid-year salary increase ever given in the history of the college--represents both a significant increase for the student workers and a strong statement on the part of the administration about the importance of increasing student wages.

I look forward to receiving recommendations from the budget and priorities committee about next year's budget in general and to working to shape a budget which can be presented to the board of trustees at the May meeting.

For a number of reasons, it is unlikely that even a preliminary discussion of the 1989 budget will take place at the March trustees meeting. But I should be clear that the original budgetary decision will be made by the administration following recommendations from the budget and priorities committee.

To: All Staff
From: Student Workers' Coalition
Date: March 2, 1988

As you may already know, the Administration was presented with the recommendations of the Student Wage Task Force on Monday Feb. 29. The Administration has agreed to the recommendations of an office space in the Airport Lounge for a student-run employment center, that there continue to be no graduated pay scale for student workers, that the Administration officially recognize a grievance procedure for student workers, and that any jobs not filled because of a wage raise due to students working less hours be turned into community service.

They did not, however, agree to the Task Force's recommendations for a student wage raise. The recommendation was for our wage to be increased starting March 1st, 1988, to $4.25/hr., (to be retroactive), and increased to $4.75 starting July 1st, 1988. Two top administrators, Kathy Methot and Trey Williams, were on the Task Force that made these recommendations. AdCom agrees that a raise to $4.00 an hour is reasonable. However, they have not committed themselves to our deadline of March 1st for implementing that raise. They also have no definite plan for another increase in July. The S.W.C. is not satisfied with this.

We demand the recommendation for $4.25 for this semester be implemented immediately and that the Administration present the figure of $4.75 to the Budget and Priorities Committee for implementation into the FY89 budget. We demand the Administration remain committed to this figure and it be presented to the Board of Trustees in the March 18 meeting.

We feel we have no other alternative than to show the Administration that we are serious and united in our efforts by staging a one-day walkout from our jobs on Thursday march 3. If the Administration still refuses to meet our demands, the student workers are prepared to go on strike until our demands are met.

The Student Workers Coalition would like to express its extreme regrets to the staff for any inconvenience this may cause. We hope that you will not take it upon yourselves to do the extra work in your offices, but will instead phone the administrators to inform them of the importance of the student workers. The S.W.C. appreciates your cooperation and would like to extend an open invitation to call on our organization for support concerning corresponding staff issues.


The Student Workers Coalition

Student Workers Walk Out. Mary Ellen Doyle, Permanent Press, Mar. 11, 1988

On Thursday, March 3, the student workers of Hampshire College staged a one-day walkout in protest of the administration's response to their demands for a wage raise.

As a result, the snack bar, bookstore, post office and swimming pool were closed either all or part of the day. Several buildings, usually monitored in the evening by students, closed early after regular staff left for the day. Saga was kept running by the student managers who were reported to have been "in the dishroom".

Most faculty and staff were supportive of the students' action. A library staff member responded by saying "Go for it!", however one professor complained that his "­ing better get done tomorrow."

The demands, presented to the Administrative Committee by the Student Workers Coalition,were for unconditional acceptance of the recommendations made by the Student Wage Task Force. The administration had previously accepted all the recommendations except those for a wage raise. A tentative offer of $4.00 for the current semester was made earlier in the week. However the recommendation called for $4.25 immediately with an increase to $4.75 for coming year. The administration made no offer for the second increase.

Tuesday evening, after receiving the offer, approximately 125 student workers voted, almost unanimously, not to accept it and to stage a walkout followed by a full strike if demands were not met.

The administration's response to the threat, was an offer of a negotiating team of Treasurer Allen Torrey, Director of Personnel Margot Roche and Assistant Dean of Faculty Larry Beede.

On Monday, March 7, the student's elected negotiators, Heidi Dorow, Nina Mallette, Mary McDonald, Brian Moore and Tom Schnieder met briefly with the administration's team. However, students refused to negotiate until they received a statement stating that these administrators were officially empowered to negotiate. The students demanded this statement or a meeting with the top three administrators, Trey Williams, Penina Glazer, and Adele Simmons.

President Simmons was unavailable for comment, however her assistant Peter Gluckler said "the committee will be empowered within the constraints imposed by the participatory/consultative process of the college". An official statement is forthcoming.

Victory for Student Workers! Mary Ellen Doyle, Permanent Press, Apr. 8, 1988

On Thursday, March 31, student workers received paychecks that included a wage raise to $4.18 an hour. Previous paychecks had included a raise to $4.00 an hour. This 11.5% increase marks the first time that students have gotten a raise in the middle of the semester.

The final $.18 was negotiated the week before spring break when members of the Student Workers Coalition met with the Administration's negotiating team. These negotiations began after a one day walkout by student workers on Thursday, March 3. Prior to the walkout an offer of $4.00 was made by President Simmons. At the largest SWC meeting on record, students voted not to accept the amount and to stage the walkout followed with the threat of a full strike.

The action and the threat apparently had the right effect when Simmons offered a negotiating team of Treasurer Allan Torrey, Director of Personnel Margot Roche and Larry Beede from the Dean of Faculty's Office. At first negotiations were stalled when Simmons refused to empower Torrey and the others beyond the "participatory/consultative process of the college". The SWC negotiators, Heidi Dorow, Mary McDonald, Brian Moore and Tom Schnieder refused to begin talks with unempowered administrators. SWC member Nina Mallette said, "That's what they did to us with the [Student Wage] Task Force. This time we want action now!"

The problem was soon solved when the SWC presented Torrey with Article IX of the Bylaws of the Board of Trustees, that stated that the Treasurer has official power to execute documents "made, accepted or endorsed by the corporation [Hampshire College]". After several sessions, negotiators agreed on the amount of $4.18, based on an offer from the administration of $4.10 and the SWC figure of $4.25. Asked to comment on the $.43 raise, a member of the Student Workers Coalition replied, "This is an amazing victory! It was worth the months of struggle. But we're not done yet!"

What the student was referring to is the Task Force recommendation for a raise for the coming fiscal year (beginning July 1) in the amount of $4.75. The SWC is pushing this amount because it says this will enable students to cut down on the hours they work, therefore allowing them to spend more time on their academics. A proposal that unfilled jobs created by this raise become community service positions is going before the Senate. The SWC says that if the second raise is not implemented in the fall "...we have an action planned for the May Trustee meeting".

Community Work Program Proposal, 1991

Date: 2/1/91
To: Members of the Committee working on the Community Work Program proposal
From: Steve Bearman
Re: Information for our next meeting

Our next meeting will be held on Monday, February 4th from 3:00 to 5:00 in Franklin Patterson Hall. Our normal meeting place, FPH 105 will most likely be taken over by the activities of the teach-in on the war happening on Monday, So we will meet in room 101 for this week instead.

Attached is some background information for the meeting. First is the proposal as it appeared in the Permanent Press in November. This is already starting to feel outdated and it is geared to some extent toward students (informing students from their perspective and gaining greater student support), but it presents many of the dimensions of the program, Also attached is a list I compiled of concerns and questions people have raised about the program.

On Monday, there will be an introduction to the program and the timeline between now and its potential implementation, We will create a plan for discussing the problems and corresponding with each budget unit. I look forward to all of us getting together!

--Steve Bearman



The Community Work Program is an enhancement of the proposed All Campus Work-Study Program previously discussed at length by members of the Hampshire community. The general idea is to involve every student, regardless of financial aid status, in a regular commitment to directly serve the college community. Community is the key word here. Creating community at Hampshire is something we often talk about doing, but community is an elusive thing, and it's difficult to figure out how to take concrete steps toward creating it. This program calls for a changing of our concept of work. It pushes us to reconsider and reevaluate our understanding of the roles of work, money, class, community, and responsibility.

This is a time for rigorous discourse about this program. Individuals in all areas of the community are excited about the possibility of its implementation. At the same time, many serious concerns are being raised. If we decide as a community that the benefits of this program are great and represent things that we strive for, then the program could be implemented in Fall '92 Since the intent of this program is to encourage community, it would be counterproductive to bring these changes about without the support and understanding of the community.


This plan is particularly important now in that it complements the process of cutting the budget for the '92 fiscal year. The transition becomes one of creative restructuring rather than simply living with less. The primary intention here is to build morale and, more importantly, community, both of which are essential to Hampshire's long term existence and growth.

* Builds community
* Direct community service (each student spends time each week doing work for the community)
* Puts all students in contact with staff and administration
* Students cultivate appreciation for others working on campus
* Students take responsibility for the health and vitality of their school
* Relieves budget cut tension
* Allows for greater flexibility in restructuring offices, budget units, services, etc. because student work force is an added resource
* Relieves increased staff (& faculty) work load
* Experiential education
* Hands on, immediately relevant educational experience
* Job experience
* Learning to work within a community
* Specific job knowledge
* Puts social philosophy into practice: lets educational values go beyond mere ideas
* Restructuring work-study program
* Disengages financial aid from work that needs to be done on campus
* Egalitarian: community work evenly distributed throughout community
* Both financial-aid and non financial-aid students share responsibility
* Frees up pool of work-study funds for redistribution into financial aid packages
* Creation of expanded work possibilities, more services offered
* Larger pool of skilled workers for skilled jobs
* Empowers students


This program is different in structure as well as in essence to the current work system. It restructures and absorbs work-study, but encompasses a great deal more.

* Each student works minimum of 4 hours per week
* 5000 hours/week of community work force
* Encompasses current work-study jobs
* Creates additional 1500 hours/week
* Students stay with one work department/assignment per semester. Students take on more responsibilities as they accumulate experience working in one work department/ assignment for several semesters
* Job fairs
* Held first week of September and February in Art Gallery
* Posters around room describe jobs and list number of openings
* More accessible alternative to current work program: easier to find jobs
* Opportunity for interviewing/applicant screening
* Work-study coordinator becomes community work coordinator
* Financial aid role: money now going to work-study wages is transformed into grant
* Business office role: Checks are simplified because payroll process is eliminated: money is now derived from grant award (given in bi-weekly checks)
* Enforcement
* Tied to academic good standing, through advising/advisor system
* Possibility of work evaluations which further link community work with academics


This outline describes the general framework of the program, but the details must be filled in by the community over the course of the next several months. We have identified significant questions which the community must address, as well as some outstanding problem areas. We suggest solutions to these problems, but here again all of us in the community must determine the final structure. There are problems, but none so overwhelming that the 1500 of us here can't invent creative solutions to them. We feel strongly that the benefits are great enough to merit a serious effort to work out the details of this plan.

* Training of increased work population
* Experienced students training students new to job
* Group training sessions
* Income of non-financial-aid students currently working on campus cannot be cut off
* Keep lifeguards, EMT's, SAGA, and special programs as possible wage paying jobs
* Student interns must work more than four hours/week
* Each semester worked as a student intern credits one work-free semester
* Room discounts retained as added incentive
* What positions in student organizations and on committees would fulfill comunity work requirement?
* What types of new jobs would be created?
* Confidentiality concerns (central records, admissions)


There are several stages to the implementation of the Community Work Program. First, the plan must be presented to and enthusiastically supported by the community. Next, we need to enter into discourse about how to make this plan work. Finally, the plan can be made official by moving through the governing bodies of Hampshire. Then the work can begin.

* Presentation to community
* All community meeting
* Open information and discussion meetings
* Permanent press articles
* Presentation to staff advocacy committee (SAC)
* Presentation to four schools
* Individual restructuring of budget units (admissions, physical plant, child care center, etc.)
* Presentation to each budget unit
* Tied into restructuring motivated by budget cuts (including work force cuts)
* Jurisdiction, making this official
* Community council, senate, administration committee (AdCom), trustees
* Positive presentation in admissions literature as progressive, experimental program
* Prospective students will apply with knowledge of the program's existence


Though we must all work through the difficult process of restructuring and changing the ways we are used to, what we will be creating is an environment for further activity to take place in. This is only the beginning. There are many possible creative undertakings within this new environment, and new vistas yet unforeseeable.

* Possible long term projects
* Students could build community center
* Community work force could grow food for SAGA
* Opening for further experimental projects and continual reshaping of community


Steve Bearman x318 Box 50
Jim Ayres x318 Box 28


How do we handle the greatly increased training load without putting added strain on the staff who usually do training? This problem is compounded by the fact that since each student will work fewer hours per week, it will take longer for students to learn how to do their jobs well.

Students won't show up for work if they're not being paid. When this impetus is removed, how can we count on students being dependable?

If Community Work is enforced through good academic standing, how is this applied when a Div III student doesn't show up for work once and is repeatedly late? Do we tell them they can't pass their Div III? Is the Advising office expected to watch over students? And what about advisors who determine academic standing who don't feel positively about the program?

Parents of prospective and current students won't like this. They will complain that they don't pay such large sums to have their kids come to school and work when they could be studying. And this could turn away many good prospects. With the size of our applicant pool we can't afford to take that risk.

Students who resent having to work will be uncooperative and disrupt the program. Also, students may avoid certain jobs, like manual labor jobs, and particularly resent having to do them.

Many students, some on financial aid, some not, have to work at off-campus jobs in order to pay for school or food each week. Can they afford yet another four hours of work in their academic week?

What about non-financial aid students who currently depend on on-campus jobs for weekly money (i.e. dining commons, lifeguards, etc.)?

If we no longer have a regular work-study program where we have

students fill out timesheets each week and pay wages based on hours worked each week, will we still be able to get the 178 thousand dollars federal financial aid for work study?

The implementation of this program right after many budget cuts are being made, especially cuts in the number of staff, make many staff people feel that their jobs are threatened by such a program. And it is breaking a federal law to replace staff with student workers. Are we doing that?

If a referendum on this passes at the end of the semester with a large majority student vote, we still need to be sure that most of the staff supports this and that the staff voice was not swallowed up in the vote.

There are many specific jobs which have difficulties with the program specific to that budget unit. Central records, admissions, and financial aid have confidentiality concerns and now even more students will be handling their records.

The length Of shifts are a real problem in a few areas. The bookstore /snackbar has a large number of student workers already, Now there will be a great number more to keep track of each day. Having a huge number of people working at the child care center conflicts with their philosophy of child care. Student interns in the houses need to work a good deal more than four hours per week, probably at least ten.

Some skilled jobs like lifeguards attract the fraction of people with training because they offer wages when there aren't enough FA students to do the job. Will these spaces get filled?

Think about each of these concerns and questions. Some of the ones at the beginning are the largest, most general problems. If each of us considers solutions and directions toward solutions to these problems, together we can come up with some very creative changes to the proposal which account for all these things. We will want to figure out in the next meeting how we can bring these concerns to our own constituencies and other budget units. We will also want to be bringing concerns from each budget unit back to the following meeting.

SeXpression and X-Plicit Players, 1992

X-Plicit Expressions Cause Controversy. Jennifer L. Pozner. The Hampshire Examiner 2(3):1,3, Oct. 15, 1992

Because of the controversy and possible ramifications in hosting X-Plicit, a nude performance art group, community members met with the administration to draft proposals to allow the group on campus.

SeXpression, the student organization advocating for the right to host X-Plicit, had invited them to perform on Oct. 27-28, without the support of the administration.

X-Plicit had planned to hold a five-hour workshop on the first night, which would explain the nature of their art, show a film, and answer any questions about the group and the upcoming performance. For the following evening, a scripted "Act of Intimacy" was planned, in which X-Plicit would create a human sculpture and invite audience members to join--clothed or unclothed--in "non-sexual, consensual touch."

The goal of the group is to strip away the stigmas surrounding social intimacy and to enlighten people by demystifying touch, intimacy, and sexuality.

The administration, however, felt that more time, preparation, and discussion was needed before the school could properly host X-Plicit. There was also concern that hosting a sexually provocative group might be psychologically damaging to students who have been victims of sexual abuse or violence, if the workshop providers are not well trained in dealing with these issues.

Robin Picard, Student Activities Director, says people are using the issue of censorship. "It is volatile," she says, "an attention grabber."

"I believe the real issues are physical and mental safety and support," she adds, "how the community is involved and impacted, and the process of planning events. We didn't say they could never come here. We said they could not come [on those dates] because the proper support systems were not in place."

SeXpression believes X-Plicit has every right to perform on campus, and by denying that right, the administration is guilty of censorship of art and expression.

Whitney Witt, SeXpression founder, says, "I see this clearly as a censorship issue and as a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution."

Morgan Sommer, a second year student, disagrees that the majority of the community favors bringing X-Plicit on campus. "Although I would like X-Plicit to come, they explore a very private dimension of people's lives. Many people have had problems with abuse, and standards of sexuality vary. SeXpression seems to be a minority of students trying to impose their will on the entire community without asking for support. They will be forcing the consequences of their actions on the community and claiming that they should deal with it themselves."

Nanette Sawyer, Women's Center Coordinator, is troubled by the controversy. "I don't feel that this is about censorship," she says. "I have no problem with a group addressing sexuality or being explicit in a performance. My concerns are about X-Plicit's physical interaction with the audience--the potential spread of sexually transmitted diseases, expecially those which do not require genital to genital contact, such as herpes, etc.--as well as the group's claim to provide emotional healing for audience participators."

"It is very reasonable," Sawyer adds, "to expect group leaders of workshops dealing with issues of sexuality, sexual abuse, and incest to have training, experience, and credentials. At this point we do not know if they have those credentials."

In an effort to reach a compromise that would eventually bring X-Plicit to perform at Hampshire, the group drafted some of these proposals:

X-Plicit could make attendance to part of the educational workshop mandatory for students who want to participate in the next night's performance;

X-Plicit could use condoms to promote safe sexuality and eliminate virtually all risk, though the act is not to include intercourse, oral sex, or the exchange of bodily fluids;

Publicity could highlight the nature of X-Plicit, the event's sponsors and goals, and the personal choice involved in participation;

The administration could say that while Hampshire doesn't endorse X-Plicit, it supports creative and artistic freedom of expression and would not censor its students;

Support systems could be made available to students to ensure that no one experiences trauma before or after the event.

The complete list of the proposals was brought to Greg Prince, Hampshire President, who will make the final decision if the parties involved cannot reach consensus.

Still, many students think that X-Plicit should be welcomed because they will challenge traditional norms of sexuality and intimacy. Scott Freeman agrees. "Every person has the right to make individual choices," he says, "and no person or administration has the power to make decisions for any one else...I have to respect every other person and what they want, which is making this a really challenging situation."

[Flyer distributed by SeXpression:]

It's a good thing that Georgia O'Keeffe, Henry Miller, Paul Rubens, or Cezanne don't attend Hampshire College right now. If they did, their work would stand a good chance of being censored by the administration.

The members of Sexpression want to let you know what the performance is that certain factions within the administration are fighting so hard to keep from Hampshire College. This performance by the X-plicit players is scheduled to take place on October 26 & 27, and we still have not received administrative approval. If after reading this, you feel outraged by the administration's attempts to determine, for you, what is and is not appropriate intellectual exploration, and if you believe that by blocking this performance they are acting in a censorial manner, call, write, or visit Greg Prince's office to express your strong concern. Sexpression meets every Monday evening at 7:30 in the library kiva.


DATE: November 10, 1992
FROM: Trey Williams, Dean of Students
TO: Faculty and Staff
SUBJECT: Freedom of Expression, Chronology of Events

Last month many discussions took place involving freedom of expression and whether the student organization, "Sexpressions," should go forward with plans to invite a performance art group, "X-Plicit Players," for a five hour lecture to be followed by a five-hour nude performance that included audience participation.

When these conversation began, I believed the issues were fairly straightforward, for although Hampshire has no interest in abridging anyone's right of free speech or stifling any artist's freedom of expression, the institution nevertheless has responsibilities 1) to ensure that professional performers invited to campus provide the institution with a valid contract for the specific performance, 2) to provide a safe environment for its students and faculty and 3) to ensure that no member of its community incurs any civil liabilities or criminal penalties because of actions taken or not taken by specific individuals or by the administration.

In recognizing the seriousness of the issues and the principles involved, members of the students affairs staff, the executive assistant to the president, faculty members, the dean of faculty, and the president himself met with the students to review what steps needed to be taken to organize an appropriate event that protected everyone's rights. The student organization was asked, and agreed, to provide information about the performance group, including the names of at least three college campuses where performances had taken place and a contract that would give us a clear sense of the nature and extent of audience participation in the performance. In their meeting with the president, the students also agreed that this material would be reviewed by college counsel, and understood that we would be guided by counsel's advice.

The students provided: 1) a newsletter, "X-Plicit News," describing in vivid and graphic detail previous performances that included sexual intercourse; 2) a script of the planned performance, "Act of Intimacy," which, proposed, for example, that "each X-Plicit Player takes a member of the audience into a slowing trance through touch that investigates the body for openings to the state of inner connection and familiarity"; 3) the names of three other colleges--one in which the performance was not held on campus, one a graduate school, and one where the performance has yet to take place; 4) a document entitled "Standard Contract and Definition of Events." Counsel reviewed these materials, then advised that to go forward with this performance would put Hampshire at risk of incurring major civil liabilities and put its employees, officers, and trustees at risk of incurring criminal penalties carrying mandatory jail sentences. Counsel's concerns were based on citations from Massachusetts General Law concerning sexual conduct (as defined by statute) involving minors, sexual conduct for remuneration, and lewd and lascivious behavior. Counsel was concerned that no contract existed: the document provided by the performance group was neither a contract nor an offer to make a contract, and offered Hampshire no protection against the various legal consequences.

Counsel's advice was persuasive; also persuasive was advice from faculty and others, as well as my own beliefs, about freedom of speech and expression. Turning away a speaker or performer out of fear of what might be said or presented was not an action I wanted to take. Because of these competing values and legal counsel's advice, I asked the president to state clearly whether and under what terms we could proceed. Thus, with counsel's assistance the president wrote the students providing two choices--allowing the performance to take place with a formal contract that afforded protection for the college or allowing the lecture to take place with a simple memorandum of understanding stating that only the lecture would take place. Our office prepared such a memorandum in the event that it would be needed.

The students' response was twofold: they called a press conference and they brought the performance group to campus as part of a protest in which a version of the specific performance piece took place. Again, counsel urged us to act, advising that the protest-performance be terminated, if not by us then by the Amherst Police Department. At the start of the protest-performance, the performance group was issued a trespass notice by Hampshire's director of public safety, and this notice was reiterated throughout the protest-performance. The police were not called, and the group, though asked to leave campus and served with a notice of trespass, were not forcibly removed.

Having witnessed the trauma to campuses where police have been called in similar situations, I was loathe to recommend that such action be taken on this campus Tuesday night. My administrative colleagues shared that reluctance, though we all agreed that the action would have become necessary had the protest-performance moved past a line we felt was tolerable for audience participation or if it had continued past the point our buildings' closing for the evening. If the performance group returned, we felt we would have had no choice but to enforce the trespass notice.

Because of the gravity of this situation, because of on-going concerns about a possible second protest-performance on Wednesday, since the group's schedule called for a two-night presentation, and because of possible legal consequences to the institution, I immediately imposed a disciplinary sanction. Students involved have been asked to meet with me, and, if they wish, may pursue available routes of appeal...

What happened October 26...was not a learning experience. Instead, it was one or two members of the community deciding that they alone could decide to act in a way that put other individuals who were not consulted and who were not given a "vote" about the event in danger of civil and criminal penalties. If, in talking with the students, I find that this conclusion was not justified, I can change the imposed disciplinary sanction. While continued discussion may provide new perspectives, I do believe they also will confirm that the fundamental issue at stake is one of community responsibility. Individuality includes responsibility. In asserting one's individual rights, one member of this community may not put other members of the community, without their informed consent, in harm's way.

The Yurt, 1995

11 April 1994

RE: Yurt Student Project

Dear Faculty and Staff members of the Hampshire College Community:

Perhaps you have heard, through college media sources or in passing conversation, about the proposed experiential education Yurt project. this project is real and we would like to tell you about it.

A yurt is a round structure originating in Mongolia where they are built of wood and yak hides, used as homes, sanctuaries and meeting places and termed ger which means "dwelling". We are designing a Westernized version, built of wood and concrete, classified as a yurt because of its round shape that holds the structure intact through the forces of tension and compression. The building will serve as a meeting place for the Hampshire College community.

The idea of building a Yurt developed in the fall of 1993 through a group of students interested in the influence of architectural design on educational space and the educational process. The project has become an independent study class, overseen by Brian Schultz (NS). Educational potentials include: research of the culture and history of Yurts, research and planning of community structure/building, research of building codes, proposal writing, fundraising, and utilization of the Yurt to facilitate education and the strengthening of community at Hampshire College.

The project is in its final stages of design and planning. The proposal is almost completed with architectural drawings, materials and price lists, material sources, budget, fundraising, code requirements and labor requirements. We have begun fundraising and been given, among other increments, a $500 grant to be matched. We project the yurt will cost $6000 to construct. We are currently building a model to scale, planning fundraising events to involve the community, and organizing the primary construction to be a part of Fall 1994 New Student Orientation Community Service projects.

In our drive to include all members of the Hampshire community, and utilize all our resources, we are sending out letters, questionnaires and engaging in other means to both inform the community of our ideas and also gain feedback and fresh ideas.

As a member of the Hampshire College faculty/staff, we address you in hopes of gathering support and critical feedback. We would appreciate any knowledge or ideas you could contribute of architectural design or planning, building code requirements, possible sources of funding or any potential pros or cons of this project that you might foresee.

If you have any questions, suggestions or input, please contact any of the below signed. Thank you.


Yurt Community Outreach Committee: Ruth Ann Colby, Julia Wilson, Aaron Godwin, Pam MacEwan, Libby Woodfin, Dave Martin

The Hampshire College Yurt Project

February 23, 1995
Dear Friend of the Hampshire College Yurt Project M.C.S. Initiative,

The purpose of this letter is to provide you with some basic information about the Hampshire College Yurt Project and our M.C.S. [Multiple Chemical Sensitivity] Initiative....

Perhaps the most useful place to start this discussion is with a brief description of what the general project is all about. For this purpose, I am inserting excerpts from a class description below from which the main project stems:

The goals of this course are to explore the processes of experiential education, community building, and the influences of architectural space on education and community. By traveling through a specific project, the building of a yurt, and by the use of cooperative education and teaching, we will address these issues. The process will consist of: writing a proposal, construction (including community involvment), use and governance, (including community building activities utilizing the yurt as a facilitating space), and the production of a publishable document of our architectural plans, methods, and processes.

Architectural significance of space

Historically a yurt is a Mongolian structure consisting of a wooden latticework frame covered with hides. It had the same basic properties as many Native American dwellings - fairly easy to contruct and portable. The yurt we plan to build will be neither of these. It will be a heated timber-frame structure mounted on concrete pillars with full electric service. It will certainly not be mobile. It will, however, be a more useful space at Hampshire College than the traditional style. The Mongolian yurts were used for everything from woodsheds to meeting places to living quarters. This yurt will have the same potential, but we plan to use it mainly as a meeting place for both on and off campus individuals, groups and classes.

When considering the goals of this project and our options for architectural style, the advantages of a round timber-frame structure become apparent. This style has strong psychological and physical implications:

--In a round structure, traditional physical manifestations of power relationships are limited. Leaders and audience are brought into one group, creating an emphasis on shared leadership and group empowerment as well as better facilitating involvement and interaction.

--the space will offer the opportunity to facilitate other larger community activities beyond its walls. An "exotic" round timber-frame structure in an accessible open environment is much more likely to have events take place around it than a cold sterile space defined by cinder-blocks and drywall....(p.1-2)

Educational Connection

As the "core group", we are also looking for a stake in our education. We feel that experiences based on, and guided by, personal relevance are vital to meaningful and effective education. This project is designed to be an experiential process, rather than simply a traditional learning experience. We could take a course in construction and never have to deal with the realities of acquiring funding, materials, and support from the administration, not to mention the exploration into community interaction, involvement and education which our plan entails. We would simply be going through the motions. In designing and implementing all the stages of this project, we stand to gain a much more complete experience. By making this investment in our education, and by creating an opportunity for others within the community to do the same, we will be facilitating an educational process far beyond what is traditionally offered....(p.3)

The above document was written early on in the project, but clearly illustrates some of our major goals. One of these initial goals was a hope that the community could not only have its needs met through our perceptions of those needs and subsequent reaction, but also that the community could help define those needs in a more direct way. Late last year, individuals representing the M.C.S. community did just that. Since this first interaction, M.C.S. accessibility has become a major goal of our project.

Taking on such a goal has meant many things to the project including the great potential of providing one of the only accessible spaces in the area for a group that much of our society has all but abandoned, and at the same time broadening our own community. Unfortunately, beyond these exciting possibilities, this initiative has also placed great risk on the general project. Due to the late entrance of the M.C.S. initiative, we have been forced to pursue the initial stages of the initiative's implementation out of our existing budgets, time, resources, and funding, with the hopes that other segments of the greater community would fall in with support as the project continued. Due to the incredibly tight nature of our budgets, this has not been easy. Likewise, the late entrance of this initiative has placed additional time requirements on the project. The time commitment and attention to detail and process the group has shown thus far on the M.C.S. initiative has been one of the most incredible I have ever had the opportunity to participate in. As per the initial charter of the project, the individuals involved are committed to making this project accessible to as many of the members of our community as possible, including those afflicted with M.C.S. As the initiative stands currently, without the help of other members of the greater community, this will not be possible....(p.4-5)

I hope the above information will prove to be useful.... Already, with the construction finished thus far, the incredible nature of the space is coming through. Please feel free to come out and see it for yourself. if you have any questions about any of this, please, do not hesitate to contact me.... On behalf of the entire Hampshire College Yurt Project, I thank you for your help and consideration.(p.8)


Aaron Godwin


Please join us for:


Friday, May 1st
Noon - 3:00: Final Clean-up (raking the site, plantings, washing windows)
4:00 to dark: Food and Music

To all members of the Hampshire Community:

The Hampshire College Yurt will officially open for use on May 1st, 1998. After a year of planning and four years of construction, this student project is complete, except for some minor finish-work, and the building inspector has given us our certificate of occupancy.

Once officially open for use, we hope that all students, faculty and staff feel welcome in the Yurt and take advantage of this alternative community space. The building will be open from 6am to midnight and a key will be available at the switchboard to sign out for after-hours use. Generally the space will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Next semester, a Yurt manager will be appointed to arrange any scheduled use of the space and to see after general maintenance of the building. Remember that this building belongs to the community and is ours to take care of.

In the spirit of the Yurt Project, and its goals of education and community development, a "Community Development Fund" has been established. This fund will award two grants up to $250 annually as seed money for projects which contribute to the physical improvement of Hampshire campus while striving to build community and provide an educational experience. More information on this funding will be available next semester.

Have a great spring and enjoy the Yurt. It is all of ours.

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