AMHERST, Ma. – Decrying the garment as “utterly tasteless” and “glib,” Amherst College President Carolyn “Biddy” Martin condemned the fraternity formerly known as Theta Delta Chi for distributing what many are calling a highly offensive t-shirt during the college’s homecoming football game.
In remarks before a gathering of concerned students Thursday evening, Martin chastised the fraternity, saying that “by depicting Jeffrey Amherst sweeping sexual assault under a pox-infested blanket, the members of [the former] TD have simultaneously glorified assault and our founder’s mistreatment of American Indians. I find everything about [the shirt] deplorable.”
Sexual assault activists also weighed in, with several describing the t-shirt as “highly triggering.” “Who goes to a family event, right when we’re trying to build a community of inclusiveness and respect, and hits everyone with something as hostile and divisive as this?” asked alumna Catherine Bryars ’12. “Honestly, who thought this was a good idea?”
One prominent student activist said responsibility for the incident extends to the entire campus community. “It’s too easy to blame the fraternity members and the administration,” said the student, who requested anonymity. “Obviously, I think the students who designed, approved, and distributed the shirt were grossly out of line, […] but many of us did nothing that afternoon.”
“I don’t even understand it,” said sophomore Brendan Larson of the shirt. “Did somebody report an assault in 1821? I’d just like the t-shirt to be based in fact.”
In a statement to The Muck-Rake, a representative of the fraternity expressed remorse for the incident. “The shirt was produced by a couple of seniors,” said chapter president Ben Weiss ’13. “This was not a collective effort, and we deplore their improper use of our name.”
Weiss promised, “This will never happen again.”
Peter Rooney, Amherst’s director of public affairs, applauded his staff of homecoming organizers for “working around” the incident. “It’s really too bad that this fraternity decided to sabotage what was otherwise a fun, peaceful homecoming game between Amherst and Williams. To say that the shirts were deleterious to community spirit and to the efforts of the countless students who are striving to promote it would be an understatement.”