May 10, 2024 - News

UMass students condemn new chancellor after protest arrests

Illustration of hands raised in a classroom with the central hand clenched into a protesting fist.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

After over 100 students and protesters were arrested Tuesday for occupying an unauthorized pro-Palestinian encampment, the UMass Amherst student government voted overwhelmingly to express "no confidence" in new Chancellor Javier Reyes yesterday.

Why it matters: Reyes was inaugurated less than a month ago and the pro-Palentinian encampment has been his first major challenge heading up the state's top public university.

What they're saying: "We have to be about letting people in rather than shutting people out. But it also means that you don't arrest peaceful protesters," U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, Amherst's congressman, said on New England Public Media yesterday morning.

  • McGovern said he understands Reyes' concerns about public safety but that, to his knowledge, the protesters were not violent.

UMass President Marty Meehan, a former congressional colleague of McGovern, said Reyes has his full support.

  • "Chancellor Reyes and his team have engaged in good faith discussions, offered meaningful paths to a resolution, and done everything within their power to engage sincerely and protect students' rights to free speech," Meehan said in a statement.

Meanwhile, MIT student protesters are vowing to maintain their encampment after administrators threatened to suspend them.

  • The demonstrators want the universities to sever ties to the Israeli military.

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