Massachusetts Daily Collegian

et arcadia en

By William McGuinness

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Amherst College was shocked from its Ivory Tower this past weekend. Then Marcus Smith, a student from the University of Massachusetts, and Issac Cameron, from Amherst College, were involved in an on-campus altercation that left both wounded, according to police documents. The fight was at a dance and was said to be over a girl. Nothing fresh there, but the reaction was anything but. The UMass student allegedly pulled a knife and stabbed the Amherst College student between six and seven times in the abdomen and back. Some eye witnesses said they came together in an embrace, as if calming each other down. Others said the knife was out from the start and what looked like a hug was actually one student repeatedly stabbing the other. Students answered television reporters’ questions with themes of shock and disbelief. “I never thought this could happen at Amherst.” “This kind of activity never happens here.” But their surprise is to mine. The title of this post Et arcadia en is Latin for Even in academics, it is. In a painting somewhere not on the collection of tubes that may be the Internet, an old man points to a headstone with the phrase engraved into it. He looks more somber than surprised. In the land of Philosopher Kings that Amherst is jokingly said to be, it’s troubling that students never thought this could happen to them, or near them, or at a school at which they are enrolled. It is as if, when embarking for the progressive Pioneer Valley, they imagined a utopia where people do not fight over women and where men don’t bring knives to parties. Students to whom I’ve spoken often say that a bubble exists around their campuses – one that restricts the flow of information, ideas and the creation personal relationships with others outside of it. But as this weekend proved, the bubble is not literal, and the sense of security they have created for themselves is not immune to a world’s reality they have forgotten to include as their own. -Wm

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