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In Other Words

A Strong Character

Re: “Political Fire” (Fall 2018). Rep. Marjorie Decker’s character should also be known for withstanding another group’s opposition to her legislative efforts on behalf of the Massachusetts “red flag” gun bill—the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU of Rhode Island wrote, “As well-intentioned as this legislation is, its breadth and its lenient standards for both applying for and granting an ERPO [extreme risk protection order] are cause for great concern.”

Keith Hatfield ’72, ’74G



Alaskan Insight

Kudos to Lisa Wexler for demonstrating that colonialism is a major factor underlying suicide in Native communities (“Suicide and Resilience,” Fall 2018). The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples acknowledges the damaging effects of government policies of domination and assimilation. Wexler’s research and experience have global significance for Indigenous self-determination. Moreover, as the article notes, non-Native populations can learn from the insight that suicide is a community phenomenon.

Peter d’Errico
Professor Emeritus



UMass Amherst People in the News

Boston Globe magazine cover featuring UMAss Amherst Chancellor Subbaswamy“By focusing the institution on improving the undergraduate experience first and foremost, Subbaswamy has been able to lead UMass in a way that does more than just impress the people doing the rankings.”
—From a Boston Globe magazine cover story on the leadership of Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and the transformation of UMass Amherst.

“This is what gets me excited, because it’s automatically improving the algorithm with no human intervention. But it’s also creepy.”
—Erik Learned-Miller, professor, computer and information sciences, discussing improvements in facial recognition technology in The New Yorker.


“There are all kinds of contextual factors in language learning. It would be hard for an app to take them all into account.”
—Tom Roeper, professor, linguistics, quoted in The Atlantic about how language learning apps like Duolingo aren’t likely to soon overcome the essential advantages of a human language teacher.



“Every time there is a big win like this, organizers’ phones are ringing off the hook.” 
—Thomas F. Juravich ’84PhD, professor, sociology, commenting in the Boston Globe about how a new contract between Marriott Hotels in Boston and striking workers could provide a boost for the labor movement.



“Skepticism is a virtue in journalism but so are facts.”
—Shaheen Pasha, senior lecturer, journalism, writing in the Daily Hampshire Gazette about reporting on sexual violence.



“People might not realize they’re more likely to get hit by lightning.”
—Rachel A. Volberg, research associate professor, biostatistics and epidemiology, in a Boston Herald story about why people are attracted to playing mega-jackpot lotteries.