Approved by: Senior Staff
Approval Date: January 12, 2022
Primary Office Responsible for Administering this Policy: Amherst College Police Department
- Statement of Academic and Expressive Freedom
- Statement of Respect for Persons
- Statement of Freedom of Expression and Dissent
- Weapons Policy
Revision History: None
The purpose of the Campus Violence Prevention Policy is to summarize the expectations of conduct for the Amherst College community, provide methods of reporting dangerous or threatening behavior, and outline the process by which such behavior is assessed.
b. Policy Statement
Amherst College does not tolerate violence or threats of violence. The College has established a threat assessment team to assess reports of behaviors that may indicate a potential for violence (“dangerous or threatening behaviors”).
This policy applies to all members of the College community, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
d. Definition of Prohibited Conduct
Prohibited conduct is defined in the Student Code of Conduct, Staff Handbook, the Faculty Handbook, and other applicable College policies. Amherst College strictly prohibits violence or threats of violence by or against its students, faculty, staff, or visitors. This includes, but is not limited to:
- The use of force with the intent to cause harm (g., physical attacks; any unwanted contact such as hitting, fighting, pushing, or throwing objects);
- Acts or threats that are intended to intimidate, harass, threaten, bully, coerce, or cause fear of harm whether directly or indirectly; and
- Acts or threats made directly or indirectly by oral or written words, gestures, or symbols that communicate a direct or indirect threat of physical or mental harm.
In addition, with limited exceptions as set forth in the College’s Weapons Policy, no person – other than a law enforcement officers in the line of duty – may carry, possess, or use any dangerous weapon on College property.
II. Amherst College Threat Assessment Team (AC-TAT)
The mission of the Amherst College Threat Assessment Team (AC-TAT) is to assess reports of dangerous or threatening behaviors and recommend next steps—a process called “threat assessment.”. The role of the AC-TAT is not to discipline, but rather to gather information and evaluate potentially threatening situations, and help individuals who may be experiencing crisis obtain the assistance they need.
a. Team Members
The AC-TAT is composed of the following members, a subset of whom convene as applicable based on whether the individual who is the subject of the threat assessment is a student, faculty member, staff member, or third party:
- Executive Director of Community Safety and Chief of Police
- Chief Human Resources Officer
- Dean of Students
- Senior Associate Dean of Students
- Associate Dean of the Faculty
- Associate Dean of Students/Director of the Counseling Center
The AC-TAT is advised by the Deputy General Counsel. The AC-TAT may call upon other College personnel or outside resources with relevant knowledge or expertise as needed.
b. Potential Outcomes of the Threat Assessment Process
The AC-TAT makes recommendations based on the information learned during its assessment, but does not have the authority to make decisions regarding disciplinary action other action (e.g., issuance of a no-trespass order). The authority for these decisions is dependent on the individual’s role within the Amherst College community, as shown below.
Office of Student Affairs
Dean of Faculty, Human Resources
Visitors (and all no trespass orders)
Amherst College Police Department
ACPD and Local Jurisdiction Law Enforcement
In accordance with the Student Code of Conduct, the Faculty Handbook, and the Staff Handbook, the College may refer individuals who have exhibited dangerous or threatening behavior for an assessment of the likelihood that they will act violently. If the continued presence of an individual on campus threatens or disrupts College business, the individual may be suspended from participation in College programs or activities, including any employment activities, pending the outcome of an assessment.
Amherst College may remove an individual from campus if that individual’s behavior is inconsistent with the College’s standards of conduct or the appropriate authority listed above has determined that the individual represents a threat to self or members of the College community. In such circumstances, the College aims to assist the individual in connecting with available resources. In addition, the individual may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension, expulsion, or termination. In addition, the Amherst College Police may assist any person who has been affected by the behavior in pursuing criminal penalties, or other appropriate action against the individual who engaged in the behavior.
Non-Amherst College affiliated persons whom ACPD and/or other law enforcement have determined represent a threat to self or members of the College community will be trespassed from the campus and may face criminal sanctions if such action is supported by a police investigation.
Every member of the Amherst College community is responsible for contributing to the safety and security of the campus community. The AC-TAT strongly encourages community members to report any dangerous or threatening behaviors that they observe or otherwise learn about.
a. How to Report
Reports can be made as follows:
- Emergency Reporting (24/7-after-hours, holidays, and weekends)
All students, faculty, staff, and visitors are urged to immediately report imminent threats, violent incidents, or dangerous or emergency situations to:
- On Campus-Amherst College Police Department – 413-542-2111 (emergency line)
- Off Campus -Local police – 911
- Non-Emergency Reporting (urgent, but not an emergency)
If you are aware of an urgent situation that occurs during business hours (M-F 830 AM-430 PM) you may contact any of the following resources:
- the Amherst College Police Department business line at 413-542-2291;
- the Dean of Student Conduct and Community Standards at 413-542-2337 (for situations involving potential or past violence or threat of violence by a student);
- the Chief Human Resources Officer at 413-542-2372 (for situations involving potential or past violence or threat of violence by a staff member or faculty member);
- Ethicspoint (anonymous reports) at 888-497-1022 or amherst.ethicspoint.com
b. What to Report
This policy is not designed to remedy routine workplace or student conflicts or behavior issues. However, students, faculty, staff, and visitors are encouraged to report any concerns about a person’s dangerous or threatening behaviors. Even if it seems like the information being reported may not be very useful, that information may be useful to the AC-TAT’s understanding a broader range of problematic or threatening behavior.
In addition, all supervisors should report any incident involving complaints, acts, or threats of violence – even if the situation has been addressed and appears to be resolved.
- Reporting Personal Situations
Students, faculty, or staff who are experiencing personal situations that could pose a risk of violence on campus or other College-owned property are strongly encouraged to report such situations in accordance with the reporting options above. Examples of personal situations that could pose a risk of campus violence and should therefore be reported to the College include, but are not limited to:
- Incidents or threats of domestic violence against a member of the College community where it is possible that the threatening party could seek out the member on campus;
- Receipt of threatening or harassing telephone calls, emails, or other communications;
- Unwanted pursuit or threats by an outside party who has been observed at or near campus; and
- Any situation in which a member of the College community has obtained a protective or restraining order that names the College as a prohibited area of contact, or that involves another student, faculty, or staff member of the College.
c. Warning Signs and Examples of Dangerous or Threatening Behavior
Some examples of warning signs that may precede dangerous or threatening behaviors are:
- Significant, unusual, or sudden changes in behavior that suggests that an individual is in severe distress;
- Evidence of severe depression, hopelessness, or suicidal thoughts/plans; and
- Extreme reaction to a loss, setback, or traumatic event.
Some examples of dangerous or threatening behaviors that should be reported are:
- References to harming a person, a group of people, or the community through a violent or destructive event;
- An unusual focus on death;
- Articulated plans, vague or specific, to bring weapons to the workplace, classroom, or living spaces;
- Aggressive or bullying behavior;
- Contextually inappropriate responses such as angry outbursts (especially uncharacteristic outbursts) or unusually or disproportionately intense negative reactions;
- Agitated reactions to changes in policies and procedures;
- Preoccupation with weapons, violent events, or persons who have engaged in violent acts;
- Statements indicating approval of the use of violence to resolve a problem; and
- Threatening postings on social media, posters, flyers, websites, or other media.
All reports under this policy will be handled in a sensitive manner. Members of the AC-TAT will share information with others only to the extent necessary to assess and manage the situation and in accordance with local, state and federal law.
Retaliatory action against anyone who has made a good-faith report under this policy is prohibited and constitutes a separate violation of this policy. Anyone found responsible for retaliation will be subject to discipline up to and including suspension, expulsion, or termination.
Report emergencies immediately to the Amherst College Police at (413) 542-2111.
Students, faculty, or staff who have been the victim of – or otherwise affected by – violence or personal situations involving violence are strongly encouraged to seek assistance from any of the following resources:
Available to: students
Available to: faculty and staff
Available to: faculty and staff
24-hour intimate partner violence hotline
Available to: students, faculty, and staff
Employee Assistance Program: LifeScope
Available to: faculty and staff