Seventy UMass Students Occupy Chancellor's Office

About 70 students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, demanding improvements in housing and meals, occupied the office of Chancellor Randolph Bromery yesterday afternoon and refused to leave.

Bromery, in Boston at the time attending a UMass trustees meeting, returned to the campus to meet with the protesters yesterday evening.

The meeting between Bromery and the demonstrators ended inconclusively late last night. As of 11 p.m., William Field, dean of students, had told the remaining protesters that they were trespassing and should leave, but they threatened to occupy the office all night, the Associated Press reported.

Arthur S. Clifford, UMass news director, said yesterday that no one was hurt in the demonstration. A spokesman for the UMass campus police declined to comment. Late last night, the Associated Press reported that state police had been called in, but there were no reports of any violence.

"The students came in kind of a swoop, and burst their way into the office. They sat down, sang some songs, and waited for the chancellor," Clifford said early yesterday evening.


Bromery lacks the power to implement most of the protesters' demands, Clifford said, adding that the UMass trustees would have to approve the proposals before they could take effect.

Student grievances about housing conditions centered on a new plan limiting students' choice of rooming arrangements and dorm assignments. Leaders of the protesters were unavailable for comment last night.

UMass's budgetary constraints over the last four years led to the new system, which is designed to avoid the crowding that left some students without rooms last September, Clifford said.

"The students complain about their preferences, but we want everybody to get a room this September," he said.

A number of UMass students contacted last night said students were generally dissatisfied with housing conditions there.

"The university started to build huge structures in the '60s, and they're unpleasant environments--people get destructive," Lisa Klein, a UMass freshman, said.

Because of its tight budget, UMass has been unable to pay for necessary building maintenance, Clifford said.

Students also complain about a proposed rule forbidding students of one dormitory, Pierpont, from living there more than four semesters.

Students felt the university was trying to break up a radical political atmosphere there, Klein said.

Clifford said the proposal was aimed at reducing the high rate of vandalism in that building, but he added that Bromery has agreed with the demonstrators and will withdraw the proposal.