Occupy Amherst movement sweeps through town

From the W.E.B. Du Bois Library to the Amherst Town Common, they marched yesterday – wielding protest signs and chanting. A contingent of people that assembled at the University of Massachusetts, they partook in a national walkout critiquing the current American financial system and the way in which business is carried out on Wall Street.

Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City and the subsequent ones that have sprung up in areas around the country, a group of students, professors and other members of the community – numbering over 100 at times – participated in Occupy Amherst, part of the national Occupy Colleges demonstration, which called for walkouts at college campuses across the country yesterday.

Around noon yesterday, the group of students came together in front of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library and marched from the UMass campus to the Town Common – making brief stops to demonstrate in front of the Whitmore Administration Building at UMass and the Bank of America on South Pleasant Street in Amherst Center – chanting and shouting in unison during their march. They also continued on to Amherst College following the demonstration at the Town Common – which was the bulkiest part of the gathering, where protesters shared stories and criticized American capitalism.

Those demonstrating cited a number of different items of frustration during the protest – from rising tuition fees for college students to outrage with the controversial Sept. 21 execution of Troy Davis, a Georgia man convicted of killing a police officer.

But something most of the protesters hammered in as a flash point issue yesterday was what they defined as corporate greed in the country.

“It all comes down to corporate greed,” said Seth Meldon, 17, a UMass freshman studying in the School of Management. “We can say it’s about Troy Davis, we can say it’s about Barack Obama … but it’s all about f***ing corporate greed.”

Demonstrators took part in stump speeches on the Town Common, where some of them chastised what they called American imperialism, shared personal stories and reflections, and evoked some words calling for a revolution.

“This is only just the start of something,” said Ben Bull, 21, a graduate student in the Labor Studies Department at UMass, who helped to put together yesterday’s demonstration. “This was basically for UMass specifically as part of the nationwide student walkout.”

Bull said that one of the goals of the demonstrations is to focus more on communities than on corporations.

“People are angry,” he said. “We have problems.”

“Obviously the big goal is a complete and total re-shift of the values of this country – moving away from profit and putting it on morality … communities not corporations,” continued Bull.

For some, the protest yesterday was a chance to recall their experiences of participating in the main demonstrations in New York.

Nonkiko Richardson, 31, an Amherst resident and former UMass student who said she was one of over 700 people arrested over the weekend on New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, said she participated in the demonstrations in an attempt to try to provide for a better future for her 8-year-old daughter.

“Her future is bleaker than mine,” said Richardson, who wore a mask during much of yesterday’s demonstration in protest to rules in New York that she said barred demonstrators from wearing such items. “We have to fight for her future.”

The money that banks, corporations and the wealthiest citizens possess, she said, is enough to end the famine taking place in Somalia.

“The issues are big,” added Richardson, who said that she thinks that if everyone does enough during demonstrations and protests, those in power will begin to recognize it. “But the money’s at Wall Street.”

Ben Taylor, who also said he was among the group of people to be arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge over the weekend, said the sentiments in New York were energizing.

“It was electric,” said Taylor, a UMass student studying political science. “There was a sense that this was the start of an absolutely new movement in American history.

“People are f***ing angry about the system, which benefits the top 1 percent while screwing over everyone else,” he added.

UMass junior Laurie Roberts, who has been following the occupations since their inception through social media but was unable to travel to New York or Boston to participate, said she was “excited” when she found out about the protest in Amherst.

“This is what needs to happen,” said Roberts. “I am so excited that students and people are finally standing up for what is wrong right now. We have to speak up or nothing is going to happen.”

Nothing happening could be one of the worst possible outcomes, according to UMass economics Professor Gerald Friedman, who was also at yesterday’s demonstration.

“This is called the great recession but it might as well be called another great depression that is the magnitude of what we are facing,” said Friedman. “And we are not going to get out of it until we really dramatically change our economic policies. So the only hope is that there is popular mobilization like this and all over the country to get the government to change its policies towards the bank.”

According to Friedman, the government currently is giving banks money in an attempt to drive interest rates down and encourage them to loan money. However, he feels banks are afraid to lend the money and are now holding on to $1.6 trillion in excess reserves. He said the system “is not working, and it is not going to work.”

Friedman also believes that legislation needs to be passed that will force the banks to loan money. In addition, he thinks that the government needs to pass a much larger stimulus than the one passed by Obama in 2009.

“The Obama stimulus was 2 to 3 percent of GDP,” said Friedman. “It was enough to kind of help things along. At the time, I was looking at some notes from a talk I gave back in February 2009 and, for once, I was right. I said we need a stimulus four times as large, and we still need a stimulus four times that large.”

But Friedman said he doesn’t think any solution will come from Capitol Hill or the White House.

“There is nothing in Washington … I like the president. I like a lot of what he is doing, but there is nothing in the White House or Congress, certainly not Congress, that is going to do anything significant to improve circumstances.” Friedman said.

For Jonathan Goldin, 60, one hope of the demonstration is to that it will serve as an impetus to bring back a sense of fairness and improve the quality of life in the country.

“The quality of life in America has gone down,” said Goldin, a self-employed psychotherapist who works with UMass students and is also affiliated with Western Mass. Jobs With Justice.

“The thing that will revive it is fairness,” continued Goldin, a participant in yesterday’s demonstration, who added that more needs to be done to motivate students at the University and prepare them for the workforce.

Yesterday’s protest, though, was the first in what is expected to be a slew of protests in the area in the coming days and weeks.

A general assembly planning meeting for demonstrations in the area was expected to take place at the Town Common yesterday evening, and organizers have already planned for a large demonstration to take place there Sunday, Oct. 16.

William Perkins can be reached at wperkins@student.umass.edu. Katie Landeck can be reached at klandeck@student.umass.edu.


Jonathan Gray remembered

Family, friends, members of the University of Massachusetts community and the city of Holyoke are mourning the loss of Jonathan “Jonno” Gray, 18. A freshman kinesiology major, Gray died at his home Jan. 5.
According to those closest to him, Gray was the kind of person who was everybody’s best friend. He was an athlete, a member of his high school band, a long boarder and a student, but, according to his brother, most of all he was kind.
“He was genuine,” said his older brother Mackenzie Gray, who delivered the eulogy at his funeral. “I don’t think he ever said a bad word about anyone.”
“He set the bar really high for everyone. He was friendly, affable, and kind. As I said in my eulogy, that’s my mission now. To try to live up to the standard he set,” said Mackenzie Gray.
Gray died while exercising in his basement. His family found him after he did not respond to a call to come to dinner.
After conducting an autopsy, the Hampden County coroner was unable to find anything physically wrong with him. A toxicology report has yet to be completed.
“We have been told that it is likely that we will never know what happened,” said Mackenzie Gray.
In high school, Gray made a name for himself as an athlete despite a rocky start on the football field.
“When I saw him as a freshman, I thought, ‘I’ll get him on the field when we are way ahead.’ He was a nice, lovable kid,” said Bob Lastowski, who as both the football and track coach, coached Gray for a total of 12 seasons over his four years.
Gray, who was an offensive lineman on the football team and threw javelin, discuss and shot put in track and field, was “undersized” for his positions, so he hit the weight room and did “his thing,” according to his former coach.
By his senior year, Gray was a starter on the football team and broke Holyoke High School’s indoor shot put record with a throw of 43 feet 1 inch.
According to Lastowski, Gray won every indoor meet during the 2011 season.
“I never thought he would start [in football],” said Lastowski. “He was an overachiever. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but he never should have done what he did.”
But, Gray was determined to play sports from day one. Born and raised in Holyoke, he attended Hatfield Elementary School and Smith Academy through the school choice program. But, when it was time to choose where to attend high school, Gray opted to go to the Holyoke High School, said Lastowski. It had a football team and track team, unlike Smith Academy.
“I think he just really loved sports,” Lastowski said about Gray’s decision to become a kinesiology major.
At UMass, Gray joined the rowing team, where he told Lastowski he had found his niche.  Gray had been recruited by the team at freshman orientation, according to Tony Cronin, head coach of the men’s rowing team.
“We weren’t talking to just anyone,” said Cronin. “We sought out guys we thought would be good [team] members. Physically, he was strong and when we talked to him we saw he had the right demeanor to be a rower.”
As a freshman, Gray was a member of the novice rowing team, where, according to Cronin, he was a leader.
“He wasn’t a captain, because we don’t have captains on the novice team, but he led by example,” Cronin said. “He was great. Very strong and very focused.”
Gray competed three times during the fall rowing season, where he did well, according to Cronin. The team placed seventh out of 30 teams over the fall.
“When I saw him [for the first time during break], I told him he could be a running back. He was in the best shape of his life, his mom said he was drinking veggie shakes. He said he thought he found his niche in crew,” said Lastowski.
“Crew was a big deal for him at UMass,” said his brother. Over the break, the two of them would spend time together in the basement practicing rowing. Mackenzie would row on the rowing machine while Jonno would critique his form.
Gray liked to find ways to give back and teach other athletes. Forty-five minutes before Gray died, he was at the gym with the Holyoke Track Team talking to Lastowski and critiquing the shot putters, as shot put is the only throwing event offered in indoor track.
“He was asking about the current season, and how he could help,” said Lastowski. “I said sure, come in next week. I think he always remembered where he came from as an athlete. He was always there for the kid with two left feet. He would take the extra 15 minutes to help someone out,” Lastowski.
To commemorate him, several Holyoke residents arranged a candlelit vigil that was held Jan. 9 at the Roberts Field Sports Complex next to Holyoke High School, overlooking both the track and the football field where he had competed.
Hundreds of people attended the solemn event dressed in gray, with many people wearing purple and white pins that were being sold for $1 in Gray’s honor.
People chatted quietly until the first candle was lit. As the flame was passed from candle to candle, a silence descended over the crowd.
For a little over an hour, people stood on the bleachers, until an announcement was made over the loud speakers.
Holyoke firefighter Jordan Lemieux read, “Number 58, Jonathan Gray. Number 58 Jonno Gray please report … All people, be advised, Jonathan Gray, number 58, student, athlete for Holyoke High School, musician, has played his last game Jan. 5, 2012. Jonno, may God rest your soul. All people, Jonathan ‘Jonno’ Gray has returned home.”
The second time the announcer spoke he called anyone who had ever been a teammate or coach of Gray to walk a lap around the track. Walkers included members of the band, football and track and field team.
After his teammates finished their lap, members of the family and friends walked their own lap around the track, pausing at places of significance such as next to the shot put circle.
“The response of the community was overwhelming, absolutely overwhelming,” said his brother. “But very welcoming and comforting.”
A wake for Gray was held Jan. 10 at the Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home in Holyoke from 3 to 7 p.m. The line for viewing wrapped through the entire downstairs of the funeral home and then outside and into the parking lot. The funeral was Jan. 11 at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Holyoke, where Gray and his family worshipped.
Every member of the rowing team attended either the wake or the funeral, according to Cronin.
Gray is survived by his parents, Douglas and Cynthia of Holyoke, brothers Robert of Seattle, Wash., and Mackenzie of Holyoke, and by his girlfriend of ten months, Emily Puffer.
“He was a great kid,” said Cronin. “He will be severely missed.”
Katie Landeck can be reached at klandeck@student.umass.edu.


Gore speaks at inauguration of Hampshire President

Former Vice President Al Gore called for Americans to “occupy democracy” at the inauguration of Jonathan Lash — the sixth president of Hampshire College — on Friday.

“We need an American Spring, this spring,” said Gore, who directed most of his remarks at students, who he saw as a one of the driving forces of political changes.

He criticized the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which gave corporations and other entities the same First Amendment rights as individuals.

“Corporations are not people,” he said to cheers from the audience. “Money is not speech.”

Gore encouraged students to take a stand, reminding them that he feels youth can be the force that brings about changes the elders in a society might have trouble imagining, recounting the disbelief of older citizens when former President John F. Kennedy announced his goal to have someone walk on the moon.

“I remember again hearing elders of that time say that was a mistake, we have never done anything like that, that was a foolish commitment,” he said.

But, eight years and two months later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin did walk on the moon. And, the average age of the system engineers working in mission control was 26, making them 18 when they heard the challenge, said Gore.

Gore, an outspoken environmental activist, also took the opportunity to emphasize his belief that the country needs to  respond to the threat of climate change.

“Every single professional scientific society in every field related to earth science or climate science says it is an urgent problem that requires urgent attention and must be addressed. … Now, there are some talk radio show hosts that say it is not,” he said to a long pause filled by soft chuckles from audience members. “It is up to you.”

After Gore’s address, which received a standing ovation, Lash — also a climate activist who had worked with Gore during their time in Washington, D.C. — took the stage to deliver his inaugural address.

Lash spoke about how the world is changing faster than ever before, creating an “era of instability” and how he views it as his job to prepare students “to thrive” in this new era.

“The world in flux is what Hampshire’s inquiry-based, learner-driven, discipline-integrating education is designed for,” he said. “We honor the vision and values upon which Hampshire was built by embracing our obligation to the future, not fearful of the risks, but excited by opportunities.”

A self-described “card carrying greenie,” he outlined his plans to make Hampshire a more sustainable place, including a plan to make the campus carbon neutral in 10 years.

“I think what we are doing to our earth is stupid, wrong, short-sighted and completely unnecessary,” he said.

During the ceremony, people representing different Hampshire constituencies spoke, welcoming Lash into the community and expressing why they thought he was the right fit for the campus.

“He really gets us, he gets Hampshire,” said Maria Vallejo, an alumnus of Hampshire, who gave a speech on behalf of the small liberal arts school’s alumni.

Many speakers talked about how Lash seemed to be willing to listen to all of the representative voices on the campus, from faculty to alumni to students.

Lash has a “temperament of passion fused with respectful listening,” said Chair of the Hampshire College Board of Trustees Sigmund Roos.

Lash — who was named as Hampshire’s president May 11, 2011 — has taken a less traditional route than many other university presidents. After working in the Peace Corps with his wife, Eleanor Scattergood, Lash earned his M. Ed. and J. D. from the Catholic University of America.

In 1993, he became president of the World Resources Institute, a think-tank based in Washington, D.C. that focused on environmental issues. And in 1999, he co-chaired the President’s Council of Sustainable Development that developed a plan of sustainable development for President Clinton.

Katie Landeck can be reached at klandeck@student.umass.edu.

Elizabeth Warren favored by crowd

SPRINGFIELD – It was clear last night at the debate between Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren that the crowd, both inside and outside of Symphony Hall, favored Warren.

After her closing remarks, Warren received loud applause from the 2,600 in attendance with a scattered few giving her a standing ovation.

“I thought the crowd was supportive of Warren, quite a bit more so than Brown,” said Jason Roche, a University of Massachusetts junior that was in attendance Wednesday night.

Danillo Sena, a senior at UMass, agreed.

“Warren had a bigger crowd here in Springfield,” he said.

Despite an early plea from moderator Jim Madigin for the crowd to remain quiet during the debate so that Brown and Warren could use as much of the allotted one hour block as possible, the crowd frequently vocalized its support for Warren, the Harvard Law School professor.

At one point, the noise grew so loud that a woman stood up, turned around, and slapped the man behind her, according to a WWLP-22News report.

The audience cheered Warren at several points during the debate, including when she talked about her support for the Affordable Health Care Act, as well as her stance on women’s rights.

The crowd also defended her when Brown told Warren to “put down the hammer,” earning him loud boos from the audience.

But that’s not to say the crowd was devoid of Brown supporters. Even as people cheered Warren’s support of the Affordable Health Care Act, others in the crowd were booing her.

“I was really surprised at the atmosphere of the debate,” said UMass student Chandler Hall. “I was expecting it to be just a little more respectful. It definitely shocked me, the unwarranted participation of the crowd.”

During the debate, the candidates were asked questions on topics ranging from their definition of the middle class to foreign policy.

Hall, a junior, said that he was pleased with the selection.

“I think everything relevant to the election was being asked,” he said.

Hall also said that since this is the first general and senatorial election he can vote in, he feels it is important to be informed.

“It is definitely important to me to make an informed decision rather than a biased one,” Hall said.

Two hours before the debate started, the side of Court Street opposite of Symphony Hall was lined with Warren and Brown supporters who were blowing whistles and clanging noisemakers.

Linda Reilly was one of the people who came out to support Brown, despite the chill and the dark sky that threatened rain.

“I came here to support Scott Brown because I think he is a very independent thinker,” Reilly said. “He’s not a pawn. I want someone who is not going to be tied to the party, you know vote on the issues, not the party.”

Charles Payne stood blowing an orange whistle and sporting a large Warren sign mounted on a two-by-four.

“I think Elizabeth Warren is the better candidate,” Payne said.

He noted that he thinks Brown has been misleading when he talks about his support for the middle class.
”He hasn’t done a thing for the middle class,” Payne said.

The debate, Hall said, was a draw, saying that he thought both candidates did well on different points.

While Roche, a political science major, thought the debate was close – noting that he thought Brown did a better job than Warren while talking about the economy – he thought that Warren came out on top.

“I wouldn’t say there was a clear winner, but I think that Warren might have ended with a little more of an upper hand,” Roche said.

Katie Landeck can be reached at klandeck@student.umass.edu.


Documents released detailing alleged rape

The four Pittsfield men charged with raping an 18-year-old University of Massachusetts student last month repeatedly assaulted the woman for one to two hours in a room in Pierpont Hall, according to documents released yesterday by an Eastern Hampshire District Court judge.

Judge John M. Payne Jr. released the criminal complaint in which the four men were charged, the probable cause statement filed by the UMass Police Department, the search warrant, and the name of the dormitory where the alleged rape occurred – all of which had previously been impounded. The alleged rape happened in the early hours of Oct. 13.

The documents detail the allegations against Emmanuel Toffee Bile, 18, Justin A. King, 18, Caleb Womack, 17, and Adam T. Liccardi, 18, the alleged attackers. Three of the men were charged with three counts of rape, and Liccardi was charged with a fourth count. All four men – who are not UMass students – have denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to all counts at an arraignment on Oct. 22.

The victim knew her alleged attackers through a mutual friend from her hometown, according to the criminal complaint, which was written by UMass Police detective Derek Napoli.

The victim never had a “sexual or intimate relationship of any kind with any of the four suspects,” according to the report.

The four Pittsfield men had texted her earlier in the day, asking to visit her at the University. She told the men not to come, according to the report.

The report states that when the victim returned to her dorm room later that night and found the men, she was intoxicated. She continued to drink with the men and two of her friends in her room, according to the report.

The men had brought marijuana with them, according to the report. Three of the men and the victim smoked it together.

The group drank and ‘hung out’ for approximately two hours before the victim’s two friends left, the police report stated.

After her friends left, the lights were turned off and three of the four men “‘attacked’ her on the bed and began ripping her clothes off,” said the report.

According to the report, the victim was coming in and out of consciousness during the assault. But, it said, she could “see figures and shadows of the assailants.”

During the alleged rape, she felt the suspects “attempting to penetrate her orally, vaginally and anally all at the same time. She is able to recall the suspects taking turns and she heard them arguing over whose turn it was next,” said the report.

Throughout the alleged rape, the victim repeatedly told her alleged attackers to stop, according to the police report.

The victim estimated the assault lasted for between one and two hours.

“This only came to an end when she was alert enough to form words and was crying in pain for them to stop,” reads the report.

Three of the four suspects left the room “quickly” following the alleged rape, according to the report.

Liccardi, the report stated, stayed behind and “hugged her and tried to comfort her telling her that she was beautiful and that she did not deserve this.”

After falling asleep, the victim was awakened by “severe pain” as Liccardi vaginally raped her. He stopped when she cried, telling him that it hurt, according to the report.

The next morning, the victim received a text message from Bile. She responded by telling him to not talk to her because “they raped her.” He responded by saying that he had “stopped and left” and that he “shouldn’t have let that happen,” according to the report.

At the arraignment of the four men on Oct. 22, defense attorneys focused on the exchange of texts between the victim, Bile and the three other implicated men. They said that it was Bile who initiated the conversation asking the victim where Liccardi was that day.

After Bile texted her “apologizing” for the incident, she responded to him saying she would not report the incident to police if each of her alleged attackers gave her $500, said lawyers in the courtroom at the arraignment.

The prosecutor – Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Suhl – said during the arraignment that the victim’s request for money was used as a defense tactic. She stated that the victim asked for the money “to protect herself. She was afraid they would do something to her.”

At the arraignment, more details were also given about how the men entered the victim’s dorm room.

Three of the four men were signed into the dorm by a stranger, according to Suhl. The police are still investigating how the fourth man entered the building. They then let themselves into her dorm room, which was unlocked, Suhl said.

At an Oct. 26 hearing seeking a reduced bail for Womack, his lawyer, Raymond Jacoub, offered a strikingly different account of the night.

In court, Jacoub said that Womack, Liccardi and Bile left the room around the same time that the two friends of the victim left, according to media reports. When the men returned to the room, he said, they found the victim having sex with King.

“The three others joined in. This was a gross act of bad judgment and not a sexual assault,” Jacoub was quoted as saying in The Republican.

The police report, however, states that Bile was “one of the first to sexually assault” the victim.

Jacoub said the case rests on the question of if the sex was consensual.

He said it was consensual because when talking to his client after the incident, the victim referred to the incident as a “gang bang” rather than a rape which he said is a “euphemistic” term for consensual group sex, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Hampshire Superior Court Judge Daniel Ford denied the bail reduction.

At the Oct. 22 arraignment, all four men were given the same bail conditions of $10,000 with GPS monitoring by Eastern Hampshire District Court Judge Mary Hurley. Additionally, the defendants were given a 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and ordered to submit to weekly random drug and alcohol screenings.

The judge also issued an active restraining order prohibiting the men from being within 100 yards of the victim. The suspects are also barred from entering Great Barrington, New Marlborough and Amherst.

So far, two of the four have appealed the ruling.

Bile had his bail reduced to $3,500 by Ford in a court appearance on Tuesday, according to The Republican. He posted bail yesterday.

During yesterday’s hearing, during which Payne released the case’s once-impounded documents, he also adjusted the conditions of Womack’s bail. The bail remains at $10,000, but Womack is allowed to live in Connecticut as long as he is monitored by GPS tracking. In addition, his curfew was extended until 10:30 p.m. on Mondays so he can continue to attend his night class at Springfield Technical Community College.

Liccardi’s lawyer is expected to seek a lower bail on Monday.

The Republican, Daily Hampshire Gazette and Berkshire Eagle had filed a request asking for the judge to release the impounded case files.

Three of the defense attorneys and the Northwestern District Attorney argued against releasing the name of the dormitory, saying it could compromise the investigation, according to reports.

Katie Landeck can be reached at klandeck@student.umass.edu.

UMass students unknowing of quad policy

Students living in expanded housing are being told to find other housing for the spring semester to some students’ dismay.

“I’m pretty annoyed,” said Wilton Childs, a sophomore, who said he didn’t understand when he selected to live in an Orchard Hill quad that he would have to move second semester.

A University of Massachusetts Residential Life policy mandates that quads be emptied so the spaces can be converted into lounges.

Had he known about the policy when he selected his room, “I definitely would have picked another assignment,” Childs said.

Childs is not alone. Out of the 26 multi-year Orchard Hill quads interviewed, with one not answering, residents in 10 rooms said they didn’t understand they would have to move at the end of the semester.

“We thought it was a rumor,” sophomore John Cushman said. “We didn’t know if it was a real thing. We figured we would cross that bridge when we came to it.”

Other students said that they thought the policy was a rumor or that they would have a choice about whether or not they wanted to move out of the quads. Others just did not know about the policy at all.

“It was like fine print,” sophomore Meera Connors said.

The Director of Student Services in ResLife Dawn Bond disagreed with the idea that the policy is like fine print.

She wasn’t “sure why people didn’t know,” Bond said in an email. “We have not allowed students assigned to temporary housing, now called expanded housing, to stay for the spring in my 11 years in office.”

Students housed in expanded housing will have first pick in the spring housing selection process, which begins on Dec. 4.

Freshmen in expanded housing will be allowed to remain in their quads, as will those who live in economy triples, which are not considered to be expanded housing.

On SPIRE, all of the expanded bed spaces – which are located in Orchard Hill, Central and Southwest residential areas – were clearly marked as such, Bond said, and students were given additional information after making the selection.

“When the (Online Room Selection) process concluded last spring, (ResLife) sent additional information to all students that assigned themselves re-iterating that they are assigned to expanded housing and that they would be required to move for spring semester,” Bond said.

Transfer student Morgan Goles didn’t know she would have to relocate for the spring semester.

“I wasn’t really given a choice,” Coles said.

Some students, like sophomore history major Dan DeLucia, are looking to find a way out of the policy.

“We were hoping we’d be able to convince (authorities) otherwise,” DeLucia said.

Sophomore animal science major Caroline Fitzgerald had similar plans when taking the assignment.

“We knew, but thought we could make them change their minds,” Fitzgerald said.

In her determination to keep the quad, which her and her roommates chose in order to have a balcony, she called Residential Life to ask if there was any way she could keep the space.

“They wouldn’t even transfer me,” she said. “They just said it was reassigned space.”

She had thought about creating a petition, but was told it wouldn’t do any good.

There were a few people, though, who had picked the assignment and accepted that they would have to move in the spring.

“I did it just to live with my three roommates,” said sophomore Isenberg student Andrea Ullrich, who has made no attempt to keep the space.

Looking forward

Many residents are worried about finding a new on-campus assignment.

“This semester has been very challenging for me academically and I want to spend finals week studying and working instead of worrying about moving out and leaving all my new friends in Field,” said Kate Nadel, a sophomore art history and philosophy double major.

But Bond assures there will be bed spaces for the students.

“As far as there being enough housing for them to select into a permanent bed space, yes, we will have plenty of vacancies for spring,” Bond said.

The quads were created in spring 2012 for the fall semester in order to alleviate the stress of housing everyone who desires on-campus residency, according to Executive Director of Residential Life Edward Hull.

With the quads and the use of economy triples, housing was able to meet demand for the first time in recent memory this year.

“In creating these temporary housing assignments, the good news is that more students are able to live on campus,” Hull said. “The bad news is that in order to make this happen, rooms intended for use by the entire residence hall are not available.”

Hull said this communal space is important, and as the spring semester creates enough open spaces to place students who were previously in expanded housing into permanent housing, he said it is reasonable to reassign the students.

This may be the last year the expanded housing is necessary during the fall semester, according to Hull, as the opening of the Commonwealth Honors Residential Complex will create new bed spaces.

“Our hope is that this may be the last year when this issue exists,” Hull said. “One of the real benefits of building a new residence hall is that it will provide us, for the first time in many years, the opportunity to “de-densify” our residence halls.”

Anna Jolliffe can be reached at ajolliff@student.umass.edu. Katie Landeck can be reached at klandeck@student.umass.edu.


UMass student, Sydney Jacoby, dies after fall

University of Massachusetts student Sydne Jacoby died on Nov. 19 from injuries resulting from a fall she had while she was walking with friends on Fearing Street on Nov. 16.

Jacoby, 19, was a sophomore psychology major at the University. According to her mother, Nadine Jacoby, she was about to declare a minor in education.

“UMass was her favorite place,” said Nadine Jacoby in a phone interview.

Jacoby – who was from Oceanside, N.Y. – always knew that she wanted to try “something different,” when she went to college, according to her roommate of two years, Alison Lynch, who said she was with her the night she fell.

“She applied to like 20 places, but she knew UMass was where she wanted to be,” said Lynch in an interview over Facebook.

The two met at New Students Orientation and quickly became friends, choosing to room together at the beginning of that school year, Lynch said.

“She was someone who made you happier just by being around her,” Lynch said. “She made my entire experience at UMass so much more comfortable because if I ever needed anyone to do anything she was always there and willing.”

Since Jacoby was from New York and Lynch was from Massachusetts, the two would occasionally bicker good-naturedly about if New York or Massachusetts sports teams were better, or about the proper pronunciation of words such as “aunt vs. ant,” but they never had a real fight.

“Our only argument was one time (about) who had to take out the trash,” Lynch said. “Everyone gets along with her. She’s impossible to dislike.”

At UMass, Jacoby was “very involved” in Autism Speaks, an autism science and advocacy organization, according to her mother. She also played on the club tennis team, and had recently applied for an internship in Sydney, Australia.

“I think it struck her with the whole Sydney, Australia, being that Sydne was her first name,” said Nadine Jacoby.

Jacoby hoped to one day to become a psychologist and to possibly work in a school with children.

Before attending UMass, Jacoby was an honors student at Oceanside High School, where she played tennis and softball.

The softball team, which was described in the Long Island Herald as being like “a family,” is trying to raise funds to install a plaque in Jacoby’s honor at the field. They are currently selling memory bracelets in her honor.

“By placing a plaque on the field, her presence will always be there to cheer on each girl as they get up to the batter’s box or as they make a catch. Her loud cheers and smile will always have a special place in all our hearts,” Angela Giuliani, who was a friend of Jacoby and captain of the softball team, told the Herald.

Jacoby was walking down Fearing Street on Nov. 16 when she tripped, hitting her head on the concrete, according to the Herald. According to Lynch, she had been on her way back to her dorm in John Quincy Adams Hall.

“Hearing her head hit the pavement was the worst noise I’ve ever heard,” said Lynch. “It was easily the worst weekend of my life.”

Amherst Police officers and an Amherst Fire Department ambulance responded to the call at 11:43 p.m., according to Fire Chief Walter “Tim” Nelson. Jacoby was picked up near 73 Fearing St. and transported to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.

Nelson told the Daily Hampshire Gazette that Jacoby was drinking before the incident, but it is unclear if the alcohol influenced her fall.

“How much alcohol played a factor in that, we’re not sure,” Nelson told the Gazette.

At Baystate Medical Center, Jacoby reportedly slipped into a coma. She died three days later of cardiac arrest, according to the Herald.

The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office issued a statement saying that no foul play was involved.

More than 500 people attended her funeral, which was held on Nov. 21, according to the Herald.

Along with her mother, Jacoby is survived by her father, Dean, and her younger brother, Joshua, according to the Herald.

“Our thoughts and prayers go to the family,” said University spokesman Ed Blaguszewski.

No campus wide notifications were sent out in order to respect the family’s wish for privacy, according to Blaguszewski.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the Baystate Medical Trauma Center, the Herald reported.

“We’ve all been saying she was an angel on earth,” said Lynch. “Now, she’s truly an angel above.”

Mary Reines contributed to this report. Katie Landeck can be reached at klandeck@student.umass.edu.

Caving Away a Sunday Afternoon

Army crawling backwards over rocks and mud 100 feet underground, I couldn’t help but wonder how I had gotten myself into my latest predicament.

Really, how did I end up in a pitch black cave, underground, squeezing myself into tiny spaces?

And then I remembered how: my best friends.

See, last year my two best friends picked up caving (also known as spelunking) as their newest hobby. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. But after hearing them talk about how awesome it was for a year, I was curious about this strange hobby, and when one of them started dating someone who regularly leads beginner trips into caves, I figured I would give it a try.

This brings me back to how I ended up spending my Sunday afternoon in Clarksville Cave in Clarksville, N.Y., with the University of Connecticut outing club.

I won’t lie, standing at the mouth of the cave, next to an approximately four-foot wide hole that descends into the ground, I was starting to wonder if this was a good idea; the longer I stared at the entrance, the less it seemed like one.

After watching five members of the group of eight people drop into the hole, I sucked it up and dropped myself into the abyss.

Sliding down the tight opening passageway, the cave opened up into a large cavern, tall enough that even the 6-foot tall boys could easily stand up. The air temperature dropped to a cool 52 degrees, and nothing could be considered dry.

Then everyone turned their lights off.

There was nothing. Not a spec of light reached the tunnel. I couldn’t see the walls of the cave, the person next to me or even my hand in front of my face. It’s darkness unlike anything you’ll experience outside.

“This is cave darkness,” explained the guide. “Down here, your eyes will never adjust because there is no light for them to adjust too.”

We went over the standard safety talk. Once that was finished, we were allowed to start exploring the cave.

Like most caves in the Northeast, the Clarkesville cave is a Limestone cave that was carved out by a stream that still runs through it. There are about 4,800 feet of passages, some of them as big as an averaged sized hallway, others so small that you need to army crawl and suck in to get through them.

And it is worth noting, that caves are extremely muddy, wet places.

In parts of the cave, in order to keep going, you essentially have to walk in the stream. In other parts of the cave, in order to press onward you have to emerge yourself chest high in the stream, which stays a consistently frigid 43 degrees.

As someone who has gone swimming in iced over lakes in January, I can say it was the coldest water I have ever been in.

It sucks the breath out of you.

After a dip, we continued to crawl through the cave, taking a slightly different passage back. This passage was smaller than the initial passage we went through and partially flooded in places.

It is also the place where I realized my clothes had come to die. The shirt I wore will never be the same shade of green ever again, and I am throwing away my jeans. It isn’t worth the price of laundry.

Despite my ruined clothes and 20-something bruises that are currently making it difficult to walk, the trip itself was worth it.

The mud covered rock formations were beautiful, something I thought I would only see on a National Geographic special. The small bat that desperately clung to the top of the cave as we went by was adorable. The feeling of accomplishment (and relief) that came from maneuvering myself out of places I thought I was going to stay in forever was empowering.

And most of all, there is just a rush that comes from going somewhere and doing something that most people don’t get to do.

As for doing it again, I am going to wait until my bruises go away before I decide if it was an experience I feel the need to repeat.

Katie Landeck can be reached at klandeck@student.umass.edu.

Save the baby animals

All I wanted was to grill my steaks for dinner.

But, when I opened the grill and saw a mouse nest with four squirming, crying, hairless rodents, I quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen.

As my father started heating coals for the charcoal grill, he established the rules. I had 24 hours to rescue the babies and their mother (who was frantically running across the bottom of the grill) before the babies would get thrown into the woods and the mother trapped. The babies were not allowed in the house.

So, I did what anyone would do in my situation: turned to social media. After tweeting, posting and texting about the babies I got clear directions about what they needed. So I scooped the babies and their nest up with a spoon, put them in a little plastic tank with a heating pad and then drove to Kmart to get formula and an eyedropper to feed them.

That was the easy part. The hard part was figuring out how to reunite them with their mother.
Baby animals are a pretty common to find in the springtime and often end up in places where they seemingly don’t belong, apparently abandoned by their mothers.

But according to Jen Langheld, a volunteer at Urban Wildlife Rehab in Springfield, they are rarely actually abandoned.

“Always give mom a chance to return,” she said. “You don’t want to be a kidnapper.”

If you find a baby animal in your road, Langheld recommends putting it in a box near the place it you found it and providing a couple of blankets to keep it warm before you take it inside or bring it to a rescue center. If the animal is dehydrated or more than 24 hours has elapsed, then she suggests bringing it to Urban Wildlife.

But not until you call Dee Howe, the founder of the operation.

Howe converted the basement of her Victorian style Springfield home into an animal shelter, after she learned that the state had no programs to help animals that were wounded on the side of the road. Something, she thought, just wasn’t right.

“This is 2012. We are supposed to have flying cars by now, and we don’t have a place for wounded animals?” she said.

When I visited, the shelter had a beaver, a possum, a porcupine, squirrels and over 20 baby raccoons.
It was extremely loud during feeding time as five volunteers bottle fed the babies who, I have to say it, were even more adorable than puppies.

The volunteers seemed to think so too as they coddled their babies, coaxing them to drink, talking to them in baby voices and petting them.

But despite their love for the coon babies, they unanimously agreed that the raccoon babies would be better off with their raccoon mothers.

“Animals make the best mothers,” said Howe. “People bring me animals thinking they are better off with me. They’re not. They’re better off with mom.”

As for my babies, they are fine. They are living with mom in some new home that is not located in my grill.

After a couple of messy feeding sessions, I put the cage back in the grill with a trail of cheese leading to it. The next morning, when I went to feed them, they were gone.

The mom had come during the night and carried each of her babies to a new home.

See. Animals do make the best mothers.

When the Band Comes Marching In

Having graduated from Minnechaug two years ago, it was a bit awkward approaching band director Margaret Reidy and asking to march with the band one more time in the Memorial Day parade in Hampden.
It was even more awkward when my sister told me that Reidy said I was “the worst marcher in Minnechaug history.”

Thanks, Ms. Reidy. Thanks.

But, I choose to look at it as a chance for redemption. A chance to prove that I was not “the worst” marcher but a far more respectable one of the worst. I had nowhere to go but up.

Marching in the Hampden Memorial Day Parade is a band tradition. It is a way to say thank you to the towns that support us as well as to the soldiers that have made our way of life possible. It is the least we could do.

But still not easy, in my opinion.

The goal is for the entire band to move as a giant amoeba. You have to maintain vertical and horizontal lines while straining to listen to whistle cues that tell you when to stop, go and play music.

Then of course you have to play music while you walk, which I have found to be significantly harder than talking while walking.

And all of this must be accomplished while staying in step.

I had not marched since the Memorial Day Parade of my senior year, when I received an embarrassing C+. Feel free to laugh.

But this time, I was going to do better. Unlike my younger more immature self, I decided to attend a marching band practice with the Concert Band — the easiest of the three Minnechaug bands that consists mostly of freshmen — and take it seriously.

Around and around the Minnechaug parking lot we marched, all the while I steadily chanted in my head left, right, left, right, left, right.

It wasn’t a whole lot better, but it was better. I was in step about 70 percent of the time.
By parade day, I had decided to take my sister’s advice and “just look good, don’t worry about the music; just look good.”

During the parade I marched in the center of the second to last row, making me one of the hardest people to spot, an intentional move I am sure on Reidy’s part.

While I did play approximately 70 percent of the time the band was playing, my main goals were to not send the band toppling over and to stay in step.

So carefully watching the feet of the people in front of me, I chanted left, right, left, right.

For the entire parade, I thought of nothing else. I paid absolutely no attention to the people on the side of the road and only vaguely heard their cheering. Whenever a chaperone came by asking if I needed water, I only vaguely moved my head as some indicator that now was not a good time.

In fact the only comment I remember is overhearing some guy ask at the very start of the parade “Aren’t they hot in those uniforms?”

To answer your question, yes, yes we are sir. The sweat is dripping down on our backs and by the end of the parade all of the clothes under our uniform range from damp to soaked.

But it’s fine. Worth it even. Because we look good and are using a day set aside to remember to the fallen, to actually remember the fallen and give back to our community.

And that’s a good thing.