Hampshire College to accept a limited freshman class this fall

Around 60 students will be accepted

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

By Will Mallas, Assistant News Editor

Amidst financial concerns, the Hampshire College Board of Trustees voted on Friday to accept a limited freshman class for the 2019-20 academic year.

According to a letter from the board, the college plans to accept only students who had previously been planning on attending Hampshire, but had decided to take a gap year or students who had applied via “early decision 1.” The school will not be accepting any other applicants.

The letter also notes the board came to this decision in order for the college to be able to provide an adequate education to its students as it seeks a potential merger.

“We believe Hampshire holds a special place in higher education, now and into the future. We believe that by enrolling a small fall 2019 class of early decision and gap-year students, the College will continue to be an experimenting and dynamic environment as we proceed with our plans for a partnership,” the letter reads. “The students who enroll this fall will benefit from the rigors and joys of the Hampshire experience.”

According to a Twitter video from Jim Wald that shows the board announcing their decision, Chair of the Board Gaye Hill announces that the college will accept “about 60” students.

“We will make full disclosure to them about what to expect because this is a new and different time for the college,” Hill said.

In the letter, the board also explains that the college will work with “current and prospective students affected by this decision, helping them understand their options, and supporting their educational goals.”

The school plans to hold campus assemblies, as well as meetings with groups on campus, such as the visioning task force and the crisis committee, in the weeks and months to come.

The decision comes in the wake of the college’s announcement that it was seeking a “long-term” financial partner in hopes to overcome various economic struggles as the college nears its 50th anniversary next year.

In the lead-up to the announcement, students showed frustration toward the situation and the upcoming decision. In protest, Hampshire students staged a sit-in that lasted from Thursday into Friday at the dean of faculties office.

In addition, a group of student activists on campus held a teach-in designed to update students on the situation and how students are remaining active during Hampshire’s struggles.

“We prepared this presentation in the case the announcement was going to be made and the announcement was postponed,” said Sarahi Silva, a senior legal studies and Latin American studies double major, regarding the teach-in. “Instead we wanted to update the student body on what was happening and what we were doing, who we were, and why we were doing this.

Silva added, “We also wanted to update [students] on protocol and give a history of conflicts between the administration and students, both at this college and at other colleges to better inform ourselves on what could happen or what we wanted to see happen.

On campus, students showed skepticism toward there being a media presence on campus Friday. Journalists were required to have a ‘liaison’ that would escort them around campus, and some students wore purple bands on their shoulders, indicating they did not want to be photographed or filmed by the press.

Despite concerns, the board seems to remain hopeful on the school’s ability to persevere.

The letter reads, “As a board, we’re committed to preserving the educational mission that has made Hampshire so vital to so many young people and to the greater society over the last 50 years, as we create a new model to sustain us through the next 50 years and beyond.”

Will Mallas can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @willmallas.