Hampshire Signboard

Q & A with New President Jonathan Lash

Posted in it's hampening by parqbench on May 11, 2011

Hey all. Div III’s finally over. Time to work on transitioning the Signboard into something more egalitarian, linked up with local indymedia efforts for next year…but in the meantime, I wanted to post this link for y’all.

It looks like Jonathan Lash is going to be our next president. Today, there was an open lunch with him, in which he answered questions from the assembled students. Definitely just a preliminary foray into Lash’s beliefs and values, but I think it’s good nonetheless to keep this practice of documenting his  transition into being President. It’s a shame we didn’t have more of this for the whole Strategic Planning and Presidential Search process, but you have to start somewhere, don’t you?

Listen to the audio here! (thanks Will)

Additional Links: Here’s Lash talking about Copenhagen and here talking about sustainable development in Latin America.


‘Living up to the Legacy’ – Student Activists Welcome Accepted Students

Posted in it's hampening, students rise by willdelphia on April 19, 2011

Dear Friends, Will here.

This video I hope speaks for itself and does so beautifully.

But you might not watch the full hour so I’ll offer the following comments:

It was shot at the Accepted Students Day student-organized panel on Hampshire’s Activist past and present this Saturday, April 16th. For me at least it is really touching to see a lot (not all, but a lot) of our work presented in one space, really drawing connections and saying to the next generation of Hampshire students and families that “we see our work as important to the school and important to the world!” It also for me represents the administration of our institution becoming more comfortable letting students speak for ourselves and seeing us as the valuable resource that we are when it comes to representing and presenting the spirit and essences of Hampshire. Mmm. Hope you enjoy the video!

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/22588209]

Sodexo Truth Tour/Interview

Posted in ccdc, it's hampening by parqbench on March 31, 2011

Tuesday, March29th, the CCDC held its first major event, a “panel”-like speak-out with student organisers with USAS (United Students Against Sweatshops) and a former Sodexo worker from the Dominican Republic (and Mixed Nuts catering!!). The full, 52-minute video of the event can be found below, as well as on archive.org as usual. Check it out!

I also got to sit down with the organisers beforehand and probe them about their work. The interview overlaps with the contents of the event, but also contains some interesting nuggets in its own right. Check it out below and be sure to watch the video for tons of facts and details about Sodexo’s record worldwide!

Hampshire’s organizing history in video

Posted in it's hampening, students rise by willdelphia on March 30, 2011

Hey y’all,

Will here, making my first post to the Signboard.

Last night (March 29th) Michael Drucker organized a screening of two home-grown documentaries about our very own Hampshire College. It was part of Hampshire Res-life’s Hampshire History Month (ongoing), advertised as the Hampshire Activist Film Series.

First on review was Nico Chavez-Courtright’s “Breaking Down Boxes”, a personal narrative about Hampshire’s history of political activism. From its earliest days Hampshire was the site of often jovial, but more often contentious political activity where students were trying to reform school policy and culture or use their power as students to influence the outside world. At 20 minutes, Breaking Down Boxes is a great primer for those who wish to learn about the roots of this school.

The other film up on the screen that evening was playfully titled “Stop The Plan Man” – a mash-up of youtube videos released during the ASH/Admissions movement of last spring. (I compiled that “film”).

The discussion that the dozen or so students held  at the end of the two films seemed to hone in a room-wide consensus: first years do not know this history — (this ourstory). At this I suggested that it is all of our responsibility to educate one another about our school and those students who came before us and actively worked to make it is interesting and promising a place that it is today. I suggested the students show their friends these two movies and have formal/informal/or even heated discussions about the content. And so in that vien, I have chosen to break onto the Signboard and post them here. So for your viewing pleasure…

and because it is a lovely and caring and funny film too, a bonus movie: “Roberta’s Saga” by Marie Broadway

SFU Interview

Posted in it's hampening by parqbench on March 28, 2011

SFU’s Feb. 22nd panel on unionisation efforts and history @ Hampshire, now uploaded to archive.org

So I sat down with two members of Students for the Freedom to Unionize (SFU) the other day, Ari Cowan and Henry Sanford, to learn a little bit more about Marlene’s recent union neutrality statement, which I’ve uploaded here. You can find SFU’s official response to the statement here.

I figure it’s one thing to see the statement posted around campus, but another thing entirely to understand the context of the statement and what it might mean for this school in the future. Click below for the full transcript!

Announcing the Coalition for a Conscientious Dining Commons

Posted in ccdc by parqbench on March 24, 2011

The Coalition for a Conscientious Dining Commons (CCDC) has been hard at work for awhile now and I have just gotten the go ahead to post their statement–a PDF version is available, but for those with PDF-phobia, the statement is reproduced on that page. There is little more  I can say right now, other than encouraging you to read it and spread it around!

I have also made a dedicated page for CCDC-related updates, which you can see in the sidebar to the right now.  Keep your eyes peeled for more news, with the CCDC and other stuff!–I’ve got some interviews and video-stuff in the works.


Coalition for a Conscientious Dining Commons
T            his semester a group of students has been meeting regularly to imagine changes regarding our school’s dining services and how our school out-sources services. We
want this process to become more community-oriented and we invite your participation along the way. We are a multi-issue group of activists on campus that repre-
sent a cross-section of our campus’s passions and values, from sustainability, to local economies and agriculture, to workers’ rights, anti-oppression, and global justice.
While our focuses differ, the coalition understands the inter-connected nature of all our objectives on both the grand and local scales and wishes to see some of our aspirations
realized here at Hampshire College.
Our interest in the Hampshire College Dining Services contract is the contradiction we see between what our school community strives to be and the types of companies we are
doing business with. We drew energy and motivation from seeing a national campaign unfolding across the country on at least 15 college/university campuses. At these schools,
students are actively organizing with Sodexo workers to remove the company from campuses due to its pattern of human rights abuses. In doing so, these schools are sending a
message to Sodexo and all corporations that make their profits at the cost of peoples’ livelihoods and basic rights. The message: when Sodexo uses its size and considerable finan-
cial power to abuse workers, the environment, and our schools, it will not be tolerated in our communities. 

Sodexo disrespects workers’ basic rights in the numerous countries it operates and within the numerous industries it participates.
In addition, Sodexo continues to operate in industries that do not reflect our community’s values of human rights, social justice, and environmental sustainability.
•       At universities across the United States, Sodexo workers make as little as $7.35 an hour, with some workers earning yearly incomes of $17,000 or less. This leaves many work-
ers to struggle far below the Federal Poverty Level ($22,350 a year). Students at other colleges have discovered that many Sodexo workers depend on food stamps and local
food banks to feed their families. In fact, a U.S. Sodexo worker earning $7.50 an hour would have to work 75 hours per week to surpass qualifying for food stamps with a
family of four—this practice leaves the state to subsidize Sodexo’s poverty wage employment. [1]
•       A class action lawsuit was brought before Sodexo showing racial discrimination in employment opportunities. Sodexo settled for 80 million dollars. [2]
•       Sodexo workers in Guinea in poor living conditions report that Sodexo pays them as little as 38 cents per hour. [3]
•       In Colombia, Sodexo workers report regularly working 12-hour shifts for the local minimum wage, which falls far short of covering basic monthly expenses. [4]
•       On September 2, 2010, Human Rights Watch released a report detailing global companies’ worker rights violations. The report spends 19 pages detailing Sodexo’s infringe-
ments of its workers’ right to associate and form unions free from intimidation or coercion in the United States. The report regarding Sodexo “suggest[s] a management
culture of deeply imbued hostility to Workers’ organizing rights.” [5]
•       Sodexo operates services aboard off-shore oil rigs, a mining practice that is volatile and environmentally harmful, to say the least. [6]
•       While university contract cuts in the last decade have succeeded in pressuring Sodexo into discontinuing contracts with the Prison Industrial Complex in the United States,
Sodexo still provides administrative functions to prisons in the United Kingdom and Australia. In these places, it remains an active participant in the practice of using incar-
ceration as an opportunity for profiteering. [7]
•       Sodexo stole money from New York public school children through an elaborate kick-back scheme: “…Sodexo passed on the price hike, billing schools 24 cents to 27 cents a
half-pint, while milk was available from Aramark, a competing company, for 18 cents to 21 cents a half-pint — a loss to schools and families of more than $100,000 a year.”
Through these examples and more Sodexo proves that its final priority is profit, regardless of those it hurts in the process. In our work we would like to push against that logic and as-
sert that people and our planet must come before corporate greed.
From talking about the specific contract with Sodexo we expanded to the idea of establishing a policy that would prevent companies with similar records from landing future
contracts at Hampshire. We feel this Socially Responsible Contracting Policy should arrive out of a community process with students, administration, staff, contracted staff, and
faculty. Toward this we are submitting recommendations to the Strategic Planning Committee and have been in contact with the administration and other stakeholders.
One of the first things we did after seeing that there was enough support on campus for such a project was take our questions and concerns to the Hampshire College Business
Office. There we met with Mark Spiro (Hampshire college treasurer) and Nancy Karella (Hampshire contract manager). Mark and Nancy were extremely helpful and demonstrat-
ed through their direct answers a willingness to work with the community on this matter. Mark offered honest responses to many questions we had within our group. We learned
important facts such as: Hampshire College has no outstanding debt to Sodexo, and the contract duration of 5 years has no bearing on when either party involved could choose
to terminate the contract; there is an “escape clause.”
Our group wishes to continue in the spirit of the ASH/Admissions plan protests of last Spring, and we are confident that Mark and the whole administration will live up to prom-
ises made during that movement and continue to respect accountability and transparency on campus. We also let Mark know that we are serious about not hurting the school
financially and working on a way forward that benefits everyone.
Some of the options for Sodexo’s replacement include: coming in house, contracting the dining operations to one of the other schools in the Five College Consortium, or finding
a less distasteful corporate provider. For us, supporting local economies is a high priority, and bringing in another large and distant corporation to manage SAGA and the Bridge
Cafe would put our community and the workers in the there in a similar position to the one we are in now.
Just like in our hopes for the Socially Responsible Contracting Policy, the process to fill Sodexo’s current role should be one that takes place in all corners of the community. The
Business Office will offer information, analysis, and needed perspective and the community, especially current dining commons workers, will use our combined skills and creativ-
ity to move the process forward. So that we can all be talking to one another and grow this project, the student organizers want to make themselves available to current dining
commons staff and the Hampshire college administration to answer questions, hold dialogues, and work together throughout this process. Towards this goal some of us will be
providing our contact information. Feel free to email, call, or wave to us if you see us walking by, and come to our public meeting on the 27th (see below for details).
Here we wish to restate our principles:
•       We are initiating a community-wide process to redesign our dining commons to better fit our school and its shared values.
•       We want to work with/for the current Staff in SAGA to ensure that no jobs are lost in this exciting time for our school and that dining staff are recognized as the highest
stakeholders in this process.
•       We stand to hold corporations accountable for their actions and practices.
•       We wish to support local economies and especially OUR local economy.
•       We stand for our community continuing to take ownership of our institution… and expanding our concept of community to include those who work hardest for it.
Signed:                                                                                                                                Please Join Us for two upcoming events…
Coalition for a Conscientious Dining Commons
Public Coalition Meeting
Selected Student Organizers and contact info:                                                                                        (all welcome) Sunday March 27th East Lec-
Alima Catellacci acc08@hampshire.edu (808) 217 5703 (SFU, HUA, SJP)                                                                                 ture Hall 8:00pm
Ari Cowan amc08@hampshire.edu (415) 823 4718 (SFU, ISWI, SJP)                                                                          …where you can learn how you (or your
Becky Burnham rrb09@hampshire.edu (484) 354 2223 (Mixed Nuts)                                                                        group) can get involved in the ongoing pro-
Emelia Martinez Brumbaugh eam08@hampshire.edu (410) 980 9239 (SFU)                                                                                          cess.
Jaymes Winell jaw08@hampshire.edu (SFU, ISWI, HUA)
Jules Cowan jsc10@hampshire.edu (415) 823 4838 (ISWI, SJP, SFU)                                                                                            ~ and ~
Lucas Weisensee ldw09@hampshire.edu (Mixed Nuts, Student-run Cafe, New Leaf, ISO)
Luke Weaver lmw09@hampshire.edu (781) 915 4878 (Mixed Nuts)                                                                                 Sodexo Worker Speaking Tour
Lyla Denburg lgd08@hampshire.edu (973) 902 1474 (SJP)                                                                                 (entire community encouraged to attend!)
Madeline Burrows mrb09@hampshire.edu (ISO)                                                                                                Tuesday March 19th 7:00pm in the
Martha Pskowski mnp09@hampshire.edu (301) 613 5700 (SFU, Mixed Nuts)                                                                            Main Lecture Hall, FPH
Megan Meo memm09@hampshire.edu (925) 383 3168 (Mixed Nuts, LFI, Student-run Cafe)                                                  …come her from US and international Sodexo
Mika Hernandez mlh10@hampshire.edu (510) 282 3598 (Mixed Nuts, LFI, Student-run Cafe)                                               workers talk about their experiences organiz-
Terry Buck tjb09@hampshire.edu (ISO, SJP, SFU)                                                                                              ing for better work conditions.
Will Delphia wmd08@hampshire.edu (614) 832 5467 (CLPP, SFU, HUA)

Hampshire Activism Roundup

Posted in it's hampening, students rise by parqbench on March 4, 2011

Hey everybody! It’s been awhile. I’ve decided to start aggregating some interesting links & whatnot on the Signboard again, since there’s so much rad stuff going on these days and I figure it’d be nice for folx to have a central place to find info. about stuff on & off campus. Keep your eyes peeled for more posts as developments come in!

To inaugurate this new season for the Signboard, I thought I’d just do a quick Hampshire activist-trip roundup. Three really cool and super important actions occurred on February 26th, February 27th, and March 2nd–and there just so happens to be video for all three of them! Thanks to Will Delphia for being the all-around media point person for this kind of thing :).

  • On the 26th, Hampshire students turned out in droves to support Planned Parenthood against massive budget cuts being pushed through the House from the right wing. In response to this threat to Planned Parenthood’s continued ability to provide reproductive health services from abortions, to STI prevention, breast exams, and education, they called on supporters to mobilize in support of women’s health and publicly available family planning. Students managed to organize two buses and mobilized over 90 students to the march in New York City (not to mention the amount of “Div 4s” I saw when I got there!). Video embedded below:
  • On the 27th, Hampshire students as well as others from the Pioneer Valley turned out to support the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in their fight against Stop & Shop in Boston for what they’re calling the “Do the Right Thing Tour”. The CIW is an amazing, wonderful group that has been consistently winning its demands and building its power for about 15 years now. Nowadays they’ve got their hands in a whole lot of things, including the Excluded Workers Congress formed at the US Social Forum this past summer, but they’ve still got enough steam to shame Publix & Ahold on a regular basis! You’ve got to admire that tenacity. Video below!
  • Finally, on March 2nd, a big rally was held at the UMass Student Union in solidarity with striking workers in Wisconsin. Check out the Facebook page for a list of sponsoring groups & unions–this kind of stuff is really invigorating! And the video…

I will note one thing that sticks out to me when we put all these videos side-by-side: we need to make the connections between our movements. I know this can kind of sound like a truism, what with “intersectionality” being so important to radical/left discourse in this country for the last few decades, but I can’t emphasise enough how much we need to show up at each other’s meetings, rallies, etc. Let me explain.

The most salient example of this, for me, was going to the Planned Parenthood rally in NYC. I happened to arrive early enough to attend a huge Wisconsin solidarity rally just before. What was really great was how much gushy solidarity was being passed around–the organisers made it clear multiple times that everyone should march from the Wisconsin rally to the Planned Parenthood rally when it was over. Really invigorating stuff all around–with a healthy dose of American nationalism–but after arriving at the PP rally, one thing really, really stuck out.

An organiser thanked Mayor Bloomberg for his stance on reproductive rights in no uncertain terms. The rally in general had a strong focus on elected officials which always unsettles me, but this in particular seemed like the biggest slap in the face to folks who had just come from the Wisconsin rally. Why?

Because when speakers were relating the struggle for workers’ rights back home, they went on at length about Bloomberg’s escalations against workers in New York City. Bloomberg is not a friend. He is a bureaucrat who makes calculated choices. And to come from a rousing rally where much verbiage was devoted to specifically outlining what the stakes were in NYC and the state in general for workers, to go to this next rally and hear the very same politicians being upheld & lauded on the basis of their support for another issue is mind-boggling to me.

Of course, it is better than Bloomberg being a rabidly anti-abortion freak. But this is precisely how movements are divided–giving hand-outs to one at the expense of the other. I think it calls for more caution and never letting the pressure off of talking heads like Bloomberg–pat him on the head for being sensible and supporting reproductive rights, but by god don’t give him a medal while he’s putting workers in danger.


So, that’s all for now–like I said, expect more from the Signboard in the coming weeks! Thanks for reading.

A final note: The Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program (CLPP) offered invaluable logistics support to the effort and the CLPP student group used the rally as an opportunity to get the word out about the annual on-campus reproductive justice conference, this year April 8-10. Please consider coming to this wonderful conference and making precisely some of these linkages and connections I’ve been talking about with activists around the country!

12th Annual Activist BBQ; Marlene Fried Interview in the works…

Posted in it's hampening, students rise by parqbench on August 28, 2010

Hi all,

Lani Blechman of CLPP has passed along an announcement for the 12th Annual Activist BBQ to me, which she suggested I post to the Signboard. You can find it on the Hampshire Intranet here. I’ll quote:

Community Partnerships for Social Change (CPSC), Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP), and Population and Development (PopDev) are excited to announce the 12th Annual Activist BBQ!

Save the Date! Thursday, September 16, 2010, 4:00-5:30pm.

As in the past, CPSC, CLPP, and PopDev will provide all of the necessary BBQ fixings, music, and tables for activist groups to do outreach. BBQ goers are encouraged to come, eat, drink, network, and learn about opportunities for activism on campus and beyond.

If your group is interested in doing outreach at the BBQ: we can provide the table, if you come with materials and people to network with Hampshire community members.

To reserve a spot, please send me an email at lblechman@hampshire.edu.

This could be a great opportunity to regroup and talk honestly with each other at the beginning of this semester. In her message to me, Lani said, “As always, CLPP and CPSC strive to make this event a space for students to talk about activism going on and ways of getting involved.” Let’s bring our hunger — for change and for delicious treats — to this shindig, eh?

I also just wanted to give ya’ll a heads up — Marlene Fried responded to my request for an interview and we’re in the process of figuring out a date to set for it. Stay tuned!

Hope your summer’s been as ridiculous as mine has,

ps the above picture of an overly-excited hipster hot dog is the very non-vegan/vegetarian-friendly image i found in a google image search for “bbq”. i hope with this disclaimer none of you are particularly offended; we can always, of course, assume it is a veggie dog to err on the side of caution.

Anonymous Communication from Admissions

Posted in admissions, it's hampening by parqbench on August 22, 2010

Hey ya’ll!

I was contacted by someone in admissions who wished to share some info with us on condition of anonymity. They also requested that I not quote them directly, so the following is a ‘retooling’ of sorts.

Hopefully, in its own, small way, this can begin to shed some light for folks who haven’t been around as to the state of things @ admissions these days.

Just to be clear, this is in no way a definitive ‘statement’ from admissions staff. This is a personal communication with everything that entails.



I’m not really comfortable with sharing a lot, but there are some things I think I can say.

We have been working all summer in a climate of fear & repression. Several staff members have been chastised for consulting with faculty about ongoing structural problems at admissions.

Meanwhile, Karen has left and Barbara has replaced her as Dean of Admissions, which you know. But this is not all: we only have 3 experienced counselors ready to travel for the fall, another counselor on reduced time (maternity leave), and a few new hires which will be joining us soon. We are very, very excited about our two new hires, but it is not ideal to have them starting one month (or less!) before our recruitment season. We also recently lost a member of our support staff who won’t be replaced for a month, at least.

If it isn’t clear by reading that, the point is this: we are now severely strapped for resources & staff, and we’re scrambling to hire new counselors (no alums this time, it looks like) through a long and absurd hiring process. But what’s important to understand is that we’re hiring now because so many staff members left. We’ve had a MASSIVE turnover since last semester of people who hadn’t had plans before this year to leave Hampshire anytime soon.

I have some grave concerns about our ability to function as an office. That said, we are all incredibly dedicated to Hampshire. We will be trying our best to pull together and get through this year, but it is going to be difficult.”

Marlene Gerber Fried to be Interim President, Staff Firings, & more…

Posted in it's hampening, monies, students rise by parqbench on August 20, 2010

The interim president has been announced, in a very short Intranet posting, as Marlene Gerber Fried! Marlene is a professor of philosophy at Hampshire and director of the Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) program.

What are your reactions to the announcement? Let us know and post your thoughts on the Signboard; maybe we can get a similar kind of discussion going like when Hexter’s transition was first announced.

I have never taken a class with Marlene and do not know that much about her, but I’ve spoken to several people already about the announcement who have shared their thoughts with me. I am sure there are others out there who also do not know exactly how to respond to this decision, so please enlighten us, those of you who’ve worked with Marlene in the past!

I will say that I have a deep and abiding love for CLPP. This is the best I can do personally :).

Also, I will be contacting Marlene for comment, as I did with the previous announcement, and hopefully we can get more of a sense of her thoughts on the role/responsibility of an interim president. Again, any perspectives you offer will help make the questions more pointed and more relevant, since I don’t know jack and am just trying to facilitate information sharing in general.

In other news, an anonymous member of Students for the Freedom to Unionize has posted a short discussion on the facebook group about recent staff firings. They said:

!!!!!!!Hi, so in other news, firings have been happening at the Physical Plant. This includes Kevin Schmitt, who’s been targeted a lot this year for speaking openly about bringing a union to Hampshire. Fortunately, he was rehired a few days after he lost his job. The whole situation is kind of complicated, but basically he got hurt in Feb. and on commencement weekend on the job so he was out sick, then phys plant told him he was out too long to come back, though he’d been asking to come back sooner and his nurse had been trying to get in touch with Eric Laizer in management to make that happen but he had not been responding to her messages.

But he’d still like everyone to be emailing human resources and people in the administration on his behalf. so: hr@hampshire.edu please take a few minutes to do this! do it do it doit !

I worked at phys. plant for 2 months this summer and from what I picked up and was told, people are understaffed and overworked…there’s a general lack of respect, and I think Kevin’s experience is making it extremely clear that anyone who advocates for labor rights faces extreme repercussions including the potential loss of their livelihood. Anyhow, besides this short term emailing of hr, which Kevin really wants to happen, what other strategies can yall think of regarding supporting staff, including but not limited to physical plant workers?

I will be contacting them for more info shortly. One thing I’d like to know is what exactly Kevin/SFU would like us to say in the e-mail? If we have a basic “form letter” that we can modify with our thoughts, that would be great.

Meanwhile, RJ Sakai (of rehamping fame) has posted a link to a new facebook group called Helping Hands for Hampshire. There is an open letter up on hampedia outlining the purpose of the group, which calls for more active involvement in the Hampshire community from Alumni as well as current students. There are numerous ways to help listed in the letter which I will not copy here, but one that piqued my interest was an “Education Conference” to be held at Hampshire in the Spring of 2011. They ask that any questions, comments, or ideas be sent to hampshireneedsyourhelp@gmail.com.

Finally, Ilana Rossof pointed out that Barbara L. Maryak has been appointed new Dean of Admissions, which was enacted on August 1st. The intranet post contains an extensive bio which I don’t think necessarily makes sense to post here. There is some confusion over what this means exactly, and where it is coming from–and what it might have to do with Steve Weisler.

I will ask again those folks @ admissions I’ve been speaking to this summer who know all of the stuff that went down in the past few months–if you are willing to make a statement, please do so; I think it would clear up a lot of the mythology around Hexter’s “transition” and the lasting effects of the ASH campaign. There will, to be sure, be things you can and cannot say. But what little knowledge you think you can safely and confidently impart on us would do a tremendous amount of good. Just think of the children!

More info will be posted as it comes. Here’s to another raucous and ridiculous year at Hampshire.