Amherst College students bail out their classmates, employees


As Amherst College watches its application pool decline, borrows $100 million to fund its expenses, and watches its enrollment tank in value, it's nice to see that its students are taking steps to shore up financial aid for their classmates -- and prevent low-wage employees from having their positions cut.

Bloomerg reports that Amherst College students are donating $70,000 in campus activity fees to the school: $50,000 will be used for financial aid with the remaining $20,000 going to help prevent the need for job or pay cuts for low-income workers. Some 60% of the school's 1,683 students voted to devote the funds to those causes, and that money will come at the expense of some of the activities and student services that are normally funded by the student government, like free transportation to sporting events.

"Our students are forcefully rejecting the image of a 'me- first' generation," college president Anthony Marx said in a statement yesterday. "They are putting their own money where all of our values must be, ensuring future educational opportunities and protecting our most vulnerable colleagues."

It's a wonderful gesture as far as it goes, but of course Amherst College's financial woes run much deeper. The school is still planning a 10% budget cut, some sort of hiring freeze, and increased enrollment to help make up for its plummeting endowment.