[Merrill Living Room] Over thirty students marched into the Dean of Students office on Tuesday (Feb. 2nd) requesting a meeting with Dean Byron McCrae. This was organized to voice concerns about a new policy change relating to student-use of the Dakin and Merrill living rooms. The flyer detailing the policy change cited the student handbook stating, “Amplifiers, amplified instruments, and drums are prohibited from being played and stored in this space.” The source of this flyer remains unclear, as multiple offices reside over the living rooms.
First-year student and organizer of the Feb. 2nd protest, Bailey Fernandez said, “students who play amplified music, especially those in bands, will often reserve this space through the Area Coordinators to play and practice at night after staff and faculty have left the building.” Fernandez also said that “[booking the space] was done all last semester and in previous years without any staff or faculty member bringing up an issue with it, and now the flyers are there and we don’t really know why.”
According to the Student Handbook, “The use of amplified instruments, DJ equipment, and drums in the residences, indoor or outdoors, and the placing of stereo speakers in windows facing outward are prohibited.” There is no stated policy regarding noise in the living room space specifically. Additionally, since the handbook lacks any clear definition of the word residence, it remains unclear if this policy already existed but was simply not enforced, or if it is an altogether new policy.
Currently, amplified instruments can be played in the Music and Dance Building, but only in practice rooms G and J, which are solely available to music concentrators. The other practice rooms (which are open to the entire Hampshire community) do not allow amplified music or drums. This leaves first-years and non-music concentrators with no space to practice and play this type of music in the Music and Dance Building.
Levon Ritter, second year student and bassist of Hampshire band Hollis Woods said, “When I was a first year, if my band was not able to practice in the living rooms then we wouldn’t have been able to even play at all. Now we’re just releasing our first EP.” While Ritter suggests that the living rooms be the spaces allotted for students to practice because they are close to the dorms and have space to accommodate bands, Fernandez says, “It doesn’t have to be the Merrill and Dakin Living Rooms… but, if the college would grant us any space we would be fine with that.”
Besides just prohibiting music in the space, some students feel the message put forth by the flyers goes against Hampshire’s Vision stating, “We envision a community known for practicing creativity”. “I find it extremely hypocritical of Hampshire, a school that prides itself on its art and the opportunities for expression that it gives its student body, to make it ostensibly impossible for many students to create music,” says first year student Ben Fitts, “They are actively stopping students from creating art, and, by closing the spaces off to bands, have essentially ended campus bands and the Hampshire music scene.”
Fernandez and other students involved in the protest are scheduled to speak with Andrea Cadyma, Associate Dean of Students, on February 12 to address these issues and unknown information surrounding them due to lack of communication between staff and students on this specific topic.