Amherst College Bars Students From Leaving Campus Without Permission

Universities and colleges have responded to the pandemic with widely differing approaches from mandated vaccines to bimonthly testing.  Amherst College however, stands out in its prohibition of off-campus travel without the express approval of the school.  The rule has triggered a backlash by students.

Under the college’s August 25 guidelines (active through September 13), “Students may visit the town of Amherst, masked when indoors, in order to conduct business (opening bank accounts, picking up prescriptions, etc.) during regular business hours, but may not go to restaurants or bars.”  However, other “off-campus travel,” with the exception of travel to other nearby universities for classes, “must be approved by the Office of Student Affairs.”

The petition currently boasts 433 signatures in opposition to the policy, Mass Live reports. The petition called for greater student input, suggesting that the college did not take their perspective into account fully before implementing the policy.  The students object the Amherst is significantly more stringent than peer institutions:

At Williams, for example, vaccinated students are exempt from testing unless symptomatic for COVID-19, and do not need to wear masks outdoors or in their residence halls. Masks are only required for unvaccinated individuals or indoors during class and other academic activities. Williams students are allowed to freely engage with the community, local vendors, and restaurants. Berkshire County has similar case levels to Hampshire County. If we abide by Amherst town and Massachusetts state guidelines, traveling beyond the town of Amherst should not be greatly increasing the risk of exposure for our campus community. Smith College does not require masks outdoors, is testing vaccinated students only once a week, has a variety of dining options available  including self-serve, and is not imposing any travel restrictions on their students. It is confounding that our guidelines are so different from these peer institutions. 

The students further object to the lack of transparency on the supporting science and the rule on outdoor masks in light of known studies showing a low transmission in such settings:

The most recent COVID-19 guidelines on the CDC website (dated August 19th, 2021), states that “current data suggest the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in outdoor settings is minimal. In general, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask outdoors. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised.” This suggests that wearing a mask outside for vaccinated individuals is completely optional depending on their own comfort level and the size of the event. This New York Times article, entitled “A Misleading CDC Number,” puts the rate of outdoor transmission at less than 0.1%, stating that “there is not a single documented COVID-19 infection in the world from causal outdoor interaction, such as walking past someone on the street or eating at a nearby table.” As such, an outdoor mask mandate is essentially going against the science that we have observed about the transmission of COVID-19 so far. 

The number of students contesting the rules is particularly significant due to the small size of Amherst of roughly 1800 students.

Notably, this does not apply to faculty members or staff members.

The limitation on travel is particularly ironic given the school’s motto: Terras Irradient (“Let them enlighten the lands”). You can still enlighten the lands but you first need to get a pass from student affairs.

21 thoughts on “Amherst College Bars Students From Leaving Campus Without Permission”

  1. Travel is a privilege granted at the pleasure of the state. Get over it.

  2. One of the involved students was on television last night. His beef was that none of these rules were provided to either the students or paying parents before tuition and board money was due. So it was a surprise that they found out about too late to either withdraw or take a gap year. Have to believe that there will be a law suit because it would seem students are entitled to have notice of such significant changes before that check is mailed.

  3. Enough!

    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    – Declaration of Independence, 1776

  4. As n older guy I have to ask you folks what you think the reaction of students being TOLD to stay on campus in say 1968 or 69? Hey kids, want to give up the president’s office for a few minutes so we can spray it with Lysol!!! Hey kids, want to cease your 50,000 person anti-war march and go back to your dorms for about a month.

    I have never before seen young people, so-called comedians, “news” reporters and Hollywood kowtow to the government before. Imagine Lenny Bruce coming on stage to state how much he supports IKE in all his endeavors. How about George Carlin opining on the wisdom of LBJ and how his war effort is superb.

    To add to the hypocrisy shown in my statement above I will add: Put a DEMOCRAT in office and the media asks about ice cream and brown suits. Have a DEMOCRAT for president and the media will ignore the guy sleeping with an actress like Marilyn Monroe. You will point out Clinton and Monica but please remember that it was a little known web guy (with a funny hat) that broke the story and the media came along kicking and screaming. Imagine the president using the IRS to attack enemies…yup, the were going to impeach Nixon for that sin, but for Obama it was not even close to the scandal of his brown suit. Trump called the Ukraine and it was a quid pro quo while Biden was at the same time getting money off of them and the Commies in China.

    1. The same people in the 60’s who said ‘never trust anyone over 30’ are now in their 70’s, 80’s at the highest levels of government and ‘higher education’ today demanding everyone listen only to them and only trust them. Without questions, just trust them. And kids, as all kids are, being so terribly inexperienced, just go along with whatever their ‘betters’ say without a second thought, without any critical thinking, without asking the most basic question ever asked, “Why?”. It’s good to see the lightbulb finally illuminating over their heads at Amherst. It’s long overdue and a good first step.

  5. Students today seem to follow the tide. I hope the administrators clamp down very tight until students learn that the tide is taking them nowhere but down. They need to learn how and when to exert their independence.

  6. They pay a lot of money to be treated like children. So when the sneak off campus do they get grounded? Lose the phones? Get told they can’t play video games?

    1. Yup. A whole lot of young people today want nothing more than to simply be parented and told what to do throughout every level of society and their lives. It’s all well and good to bemoan the situation, but we are the ones that did this, and unless we counter it, it will absolutely be the end of things.

  7. I question the value of a college education nowadays.

    If I owned a business, I would hire local high school grads that had good grades, a good work ethic, and pay them a good wage. Teach them the business world from the inside.
    Establish some kind of OJT/vocation accreditation that puts them on par with a college grad without the debt.

  8. Amherst telling teenagers they can’t travel off campus without permission? If we know anything about teenagers, it’ll be challenge those kids will gladly take up.

  9. The doctrine of “in loco parentis” on steroids? Maybe the students will learn something from this authoritarian decision and transfer to another college

    1. Maybe they will learn up front and personal the consequences of voting blue because that’s what’s coming to America.

  10. Just more confirmation that many academics have an inner Facist just waiting to get out.

    Not surprising given their overwhelming Lefty leanings.

  11. The college seal of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is displayed, not Amherst College. Not the same school.

    1. Good catch! The University of Massachusetts does have a campus located in Amherst. Unlike Amherst College, which is a private school, the University of Massachusetts, is a state school.

  12. It costs lots of money to pay tuition, room and board. Instead:. Invest in a business for your offspring to learn and take over. MBA degrees are over rated. Be independent. Don’t strive to go to work for some bank.

    1. It is about control…..nothing else!

      Rules for Thee….not Me!

      That is how Liberal Democrats are born….nutured….and ultimately conform until in a position to continue the cycle of oppression, indoctrination, and personal benefit.

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