Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Chancellor Reyes: Make sure to leave your UCard on the table

A guide to navigating our campus resources
Alexandra Rowe
Arrested protesters are taken by police onto a university shuttle by Campus Center Way near Bowker Auditorium at 12:35 a.m. Wednesday morning.

At the beginning of the semester, Collegian leadership interviewed incoming Chancellor Javier Reyes. When the leadership of a university as massive and prestigious as the University of Massachusetts changes hands, the community has a right to know their new leader and have their questions answered. We interviewed former Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy on his way out, so it was only right to interview Reyes on his way in.

I had a great time speaking with Reyes. He had a warm, comforting smile and would work through questions in a way that made me feel satisfied with his answers. He talked about how he disliked wearing suits, how he loves to display his Marvel action figures in his office and how he values having regular pizza dinners with students at his house to get to know the community.

On May 7, Reyes authorized State Police, UMass Police Department and Amherst Police Department forces to crush an encampment constructed by students, faculty and community members protesting Israel’s invasion of Gaza and the University’s ties to defense contractors. Our reporters were eyewitnesses to the gratuitous police brutality that Reyes’ authorization caused.

Within 24 hours of the protest, the Student Government Association held an overwhelming vote of no confidence in Reyes’ leadership. I have no doubt that Reyes will spend the rest of the spring semester trying to clean up his image, both to the community and University shareholders. I’m sure that he will try to distance himself from the police violence – after all, he wasn’t the one on South Lawn beating up students.

Unfortunately for the UMass administration, they made a terrible mistake by supplying police officers with campus resources to extinguish the protest. Throughout the night, police used UMass Waste Management trucks to set up light towers to light the area, a campus shuttle to transport arrested protesters and the Mullins Center as a holding cell. I was, and still am, shocked by this decision.

They turned our incredible public transportation system into a prisoner transport system.

They turned the event hall that hosts artists and student athletes into a detention center. In one week, I will graduate above the basement used to detain students.

There is something uniquely sickening about seeing resources used for sport, accessible transportation and entertainment being retrofitted by a violent contingent of police officers. When I first saw students being led onto a campus shuttle, my mind immediately went to a scene in “The Handmaid’s Tale” where Fenway Park was used as a location for a fake public execution. In this scene, Boston’s strongest pillar of pride and entertainment was used to psychologically torture protesters. Even though it was fiction, it’s still hard to look at the Green Monster the same way today.

When I see a police badge, I understand that for many communities, the badge is a symbol of violence and repression. I’m saddened, but not surprised when I see someone wearing that badge use excessive force on a protester. When I see that neon ticker on an Amherst bus, I know that anyone anywhere in the Amherst community can get a free, safe and accessible ride to where they need to go. I’m horrified when I see this fixture of our community used by the police, transporting student protesters to the Mullins Detention Center.

Spaces as multifaceted as the Mullins Center hold incredible power in our community. When you disrespect that power, you disrespect our community. When I toured UMass, I saw the Mullins Center as an exciting place to watch concerts and hockey games. Now, I will forever think of the Mullins Detention Center as the location where UMass students were handcuffed for hours by a violent contingent of police.

With that said, I’d like to speak to you, Chancellor Reyes, because I know you occasionally read our publication and you were a great listener the last time we talked.

I know how hard it is to fit into a community, especially one as complex and diverse as UMass. I know what it’s like to lead a large group of students and make difficult decisions that may upset colleagues, friends and community members. I also know that this is your first year on campus – you’re a freshman. Trust me, I know how scary and exciting it is, I was a freshman once too.

One time, I sat down in a dining hall and ignored the UCard that was on the table – I thought someone had just left it there. When the person on the card appeared at the table with a full plate of food, I handed them their card and told them they lost it. The person laughed, sat down across from me and explained how people reserved seats in the dining hall. We laughed together, I apologized and I made sure to respect the custom moving forward.

Right now, it looks like you don’t really understand or respect our customs. That’s okay, you’re a freshman – no one’s expecting you to be perfect during your first year. When I didn’t follow the UCard rule, I didn’t know any better. I wasn’t trying to disrespect the custom – maybe this situation is one big misunderstanding as well.

Maybe you didn’t realize that police using campus resources would cause such a disturbing effect. Maybe you’re also horrified that you’re going to be speaking at the Mullins Detention Center in a week. Maybe you feel awful that your students are injured, grieving and traumatized as a result of an action that you took.

I’m here to tell you as bad as it sounds, it’s okay. All you have to do is apologize, explain how you just didn’t understand how things worked around here and tell us how you’ll try better next time. That seemed to work for me, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it’ll work for you.

Editor’s note: The bus used to transport arrested protesters was a university-owned shuttle and is not associated with the PVTA.

Lucas Ruud can be reached at [email protected].

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  • S

    SarahMay 10, 2024 at 6:09 pm

    I love this article

  • Y

    yuh yuhMay 10, 2024 at 10:26 am

    well written but like that ending… he can’t just apologize😭😭

  • R

    Rebecca`May 10, 2024 at 9:44 am

    bravo, lucas!!

  • K

    Kerry HealyMay 9, 2024 at 9:19 pm

    Beautiful response. I am impressed by your words, your open hearted perspective and your generosity of spirit. You want opportunities to hear everyone and take positive steps forward, not just the easy out… criticizing everyone. We need more people like you! Thank you!!!

    Kerry, parent of a 2024 graduate

  • B

    BrendanMay 9, 2024 at 5:47 pm

    Excellent article, really well communicated ideas.

  • D

    DianaMay 9, 2024 at 2:04 pm

    I can’t believe this