Letters To The Editor
By Conley 02, Lugo 04, Lackman 96
<b>Student Parking Comes First</b><br>To the Editor:

My summer was going wonderfully until I got the now-famous letter from Jim Brassord, Director of Facilities Planning and Management for the College. For starters, it's not just addressed to Newport residents, but to Mayo-Smith as well.

To quote the letter: "In order to accommodate the faculty and staff displaced from the on-street parking spaces the College must modify its parking system. We have developed a short-term plan that involves reassigning the parking spaces associated with Newport and Mayo-Smith dorms to faculty and staff."

It is this line of thought that I take issue with. To "accommodate" faculty and staff, the administration thinks nothing of encumbering a portion of the student body. We chose our housing with the understanding that it came with convenient parking. In the case of Newport, one of its greatest assets as a base for Spanish house and French house operations has always been its parking. Having the lot open to residents allows us to purchase needed supplies for our campus-wide house functions and to transport residents to local community service house projects, such as our Habitat for Humanity project in Northampton.

After last year's string of attacks at local colleges, including UMass, and alleged attempted assaults here at Amherst, this parking ban at Newport and Mayo-Smith is ill advised. To force students to move their cars to a lot half a mile away in the middle of the night and walk back to their dorms is extremely unsafe. The proposal to shuttle people from the Hills Lot to their dorms is ludicrous. Having students wait in the dark for Amherst's terribly overextended and unreliable shuttle system to arrive (which normally requires 20 minutes to a half an hour of standing alone in the cold waiting) invites the strong possibility of more attacks on campus. Faculty and staff, who park during the day, do not have to contend with this personal security issue.

Also, we have since learned that by "short-term plan," the school doesn't plan to relinquish its stranglehold on these two lots for at least two years. Should it really take two years and a parking consultant for the great minds at Amherst to pave a parking lot?

Under the assumption that I would have this place nearby to park, I've spent the past two summers working 70-plus hours per week at three jobs to purchase my own car to have for the coming school year. Now they're suggesting that we park at nearby house lots (Seelye, Hitchcock, or Seligman), which have in previous years been full beyond their capacities even without the burden of Newport and Mayo-Smith parkers. In case those lots get full, which they will in all likelihood become, the school has been so kind as to expand the Hills lot a half a mile away.

If the faculty and staff who now parallel park their cars on the drive in front of Converse Hall would instead park diagonal to that same curb, this would potentially double the capacity of that particular strip, adding 15 or more spots without impeding traffic or inconveniencing anyone.

Also, it would be much more equitable for the College to take a few spots from each student lot, as nearly every lot does have a few spaces to spare. It's terribly unjust to force Newport and Mayo-Smith to bear the full brunt of this parking ban.

It's easy for people not directly affected by this restriction to write it off. After all, apathy is alive and well at the Fairest College. But if we just sit back and allow the school to take two lots, what kind of precedent does that set? Who's to say that this solution will be adequate? Maybe they'll need a few more spots and close down Garman lot, or Hitchcock and Seelye. As long as the faculty and staff are content with such ideas, I wouldn't put it past the administration to try.

For those of us directly affected by this edict, eight months a year Newport and Mayo Smith are our homes. Faculty and staff work nearby; we live there.

Why, at a school that advertises so much that the students come first, are the students suddenly second best? Are our needs only important when it's convenient for the administration?

Chris Conley '02

<b>Chem 15 Uses Unfair Criteria</b><br>To the Editor:

Having prerequisites is understandable for some classes. But at what point does it become unfair? I can't speak about all the departments because I haven't had experience with many of them-give me time-but I will talk about my experiences with a chemistry course.

Being a naive freshman, I sort of had my heart set on getting into all of my requested courses. When I saw that I had received all of them, I knew it was too good to be true. It turns out that the Chem 15 professor did not feel I would be able to handle the course. That was that.

How did he choose his students? SATs. Did I miss the chemistry part of the SATs? And what if you didn't take a chemistry SAT II? Well, it's okay if you did really well on the SATs. Good SATs might mean a high chance of success in the course, but nothing's guaranteed. Now what if your SATs were just average? Too bad. Even with two years of chemistry (one being AP) and four years of mathematics (one being calculus) I was bumped out.

The funny thing is that one student in the class told the professor that he only had one year of chemistry, which was in the 10th grade. He wasn't sure about taking the course because he didn't feel that he was adequately prepared, but since his SAT scores were high enough the professor coaxed him into staying. Meanwhile, I was placed out.

This is a quote from the course catalog about Chemistry 15: "This course is designed to utilize the background of those students with strong preparation in secondary school chemistry." Does one year of high school chemistry (in the 10th grade) sound like strong preparation? I'm not saying that that student didn't deserve the seat, but I do not think he's more entitled to it than I am-or anyone else for that matter.

Let this be a lesson to you, boys and girls: don't give up too easily, especially when you're paying $35,000 a year ... "Welcome to Amherst College!" Yikes...

Hector Lugo '04

<b>Congrats To <i>A Further Room</i></b><br>To the Editor:

I'd like to offer belated congrats to the editors of A Further Room for doing the right thing in last year's cover censorship battle, and for keeping the magazine alive. You might be interested to know that several A Further Room contributors and workshop participants have gone on to attend top Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs and to publish their work.

Incidentally, Turley was the first printer of A Further Room back in 1993. While they raised their eyebrows at a few works of art, they never thought to interfere.

Jon Lackman '96

Issue 02, Submitted 2000-09-13 15:52:08