MTA response to May 7 arrests at UMass Amherst

MTA response to May 7 arrests at UMass Amherst

MTA President Max Page, a professor at UMass Amherst, and Vice President Deb McCarthy issued the following statement in response to the May 7 arrests of more than 100 people protesting on the UMass Amherst campus:

The Massachusetts Teachers Association condemns the UMass Amherst administration’s restraints on academic freedom and crackdown on the free speech rights of students, staff and faculty on campus.

The use of force to silence protests is antithetical to the reason why universities – and especially public universities – exist.

Campuses across the country have become home to protests over the war between Israel and Hamas. UMass Amherst had the opportunity to be a leader in showing how an academic community can allow the expression of divergent points of view. Instead, UMass chose to bring in a police presence to forcefully break up a demonstration.

UMass has a long history of being home to passionate protest regarding many issues, and MTA believes that the administration’s actions of May 7 have introduced an unwelcome and chilling effect on the right to protest and assembly.

We urge UMass to disavow and discontinue actions that threaten the safety and well-being of students, staff and faculty engaged in lawful protest.

MTA will support and defend its members’ rights to free speech and academic freedom at UMass Amherst and across the state, as they play a crucial role in defending workplace and social justice.

This statement was sent to UMass President Marty Meehan and UMass Amherst Chancellor Javier Reyes.