Image 01 Image 03

Progressive Hampshire College Reduces Fall 2019 Incoming Freshman Class, Continued Viability in Doubt

Progressive Hampshire College Reduces Fall 2019 Incoming Freshman Class, Continued Viability in Doubt

“When the news came, some, including several trustees, shed tears.”

It was recently revealed that the extremely progressive Hampshire College of Massachusetts is seeking a partner with which to merge. This raised questions about the school’s future, which were confirmed by the school’s debate over admitting a freshman class for next fall.

Just ten years ago, it would have been unthinkable to consider that one of the schools in the ‘Five College Consortium’ of western Massachusetts would face such uncertainty. Now it is reality.

Laura Krantz of the Boston Globe is now reporting that Hampshire will accept a limited class this fall:

Hampshire College won’t admit full freshman class

Despite sharp criticism from students, professors and alumni, the trustees of Hampshire College on Friday evening announced the school will not admit a full freshman class this fall, plunging its future into further uncertainty.

The school will accept only those students who had already been granted a spot at Hampshire through deferred admissions or the early-decision process — about 60 in all. College officials have pledged to keep the school open and are looking for a partner to merge with.

“This is a time of extreme anxiety,” board chair Gaye Hill told a crowd gathered at the campus athletic center. Her speech was cut short by the chants of students angered by the decision.

Gaye spoke at a 7:30 p.m. meeting that capped a tense 24 hours on campus. Students held demonstrations and sit-ins, urging trustees to take more time before they made a decision. When students and alumni finally gathered to hear the news, they formed a ring around the gymnasium, joining hands. When the news came, some, including several trustees, shed tears.

Here’s a video report from WWLP News in western MA:

Rick Seltzer and Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed have more:

Hampshire Won’t Admit More Students

For nearly 50 years, Hampshire has operated at a college where students could lead their own educations, without the constraints of traditional departments. But last month’s announcement said that the model was not working financially.

The students that Hampshire said it would enroll include 41 who were admitted early decision and another 36 who deferred enrollment a year ago. But Hampshire has released early decision applicants from their pledge to enroll if admitted, so it is unclear how many will enroll. A typical class of new students at Hampshire in recent years has been about 300.

In explaining the outcome on Friday, board leaders wrote to the campus that “we reached our decisions after considering many factors, including heartfelt and passionate discussions with the wider Hampshire community. The board believes in Hampshire. We believe Hampshire holds a special place in higher education, now and into the future. We believe that by enrolling a small fall 2019 class of early decision and gap-year students, the college will continue to be an experimenting and dynamic environment as we proceed with our plans for a partnership. The students who enroll this fall will benefit from the rigors and joys of the Hampshire experience.”

A college spokesman said that there was no information available on possible partnerships.

Some students believe they can protest the school’s problem away. They are mistaken.

Jim Kinney writes at Mass Live:

Hampshire College students — famous for their freewheeling spirit and willingness to protest — continued peaceful 1960s-style sit-ins and teach-ins Friday as the college’s board of trustees debated the school’s fate.

Word was expected Friday at 7:30 p.m. Friday as to whether Hampshire will admit a freshman class this fall as it peruses a “strategic partnership” administrators here believe is crucial to the college’s fiscal health.

But critics say not admitting a class this fall — and going forward with just three classes of tuition-paying students — would cost too much lost revenue and force faculty and staff layoffs of 30 to 50 percent.

The politics of Hampshire College fall squarely into the far left. You may recall this controversy from 2016:

Hampshire has also had anti-Semitism problems, as noted by Sara Dogan of Frontpage Mag in 2011:

Anti-Semitism at Hampshire College

In the wake of the federal investigation recently opened to investigate charges of anti-Semitism and a hostile environment for Jewish students at the University of California Santa Cruz, other students who have experienced anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist harassment are coming forward with their stories. Among these are former Hampshire College students Lihi Benisty and Samantha Mandeles whose testimony paints a truly disturbing picture of the atmosphere of hatred and intimidation faced by pro-Israel campus activists.

Hampshire College is a small liberal arts school in western Massachusetts. As well-known Israel activists on a campus dominated by the extremist organization Students for Justice in Palestine, which is linked to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood network, both Benisty and Mandeles have faced harassment and intimidation as the price for voicing their views on Israel.

Lihi Benisty transferred to Hampshire last year as a junior and quickly became active in pro-Israel activism on campus but was shocked by the hostile and violent reception her activities garnered from pro-Palestinian students on campus.

“Being ‘pro Palestine’ right now on college campuses I think is kind of a new fad, especially on liberal campuses,” Benisty explains. “[Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)] is probably the largest group on campus and the most active group and they sound good and they present these facts that how can you not support them if they’re throwing around genocide and apartheid and all those words.”

This 2011 video shows anti-Israel protesters disrupting a talk:

The higher education bubble is real. If Hampshire College folds, and it clearly could, no private liberal arts college is immune.

Featured image via YouTube.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


One thing the trustees of Hampshire College need to consider is Staff Pensions and other long term liabilities besides the violation of Federal regulations.

caseoftheblues | February 3, 2019 at 10:22 am

Yah if any college needed to shut down…this one sure makes the shortlist. It will be a better world without this place teaching it’s hate and bigotry

Ok, so the school has acquired for itself a reputation for being hostile to patriotism, and harassing Jews. It turns out this is not good for business. How could they possibly have known?

Our entire higher-education system is suffering from a long-term influx of too much money. As the cost of teaching per se has dropped through the availability of online materials and classes, schools have had to hunt for ways to spend the enormous government subsidy through its grand and loan programs. Schools have padded their curricula, put roadblocks in the way of graduation so that students take longer to obtain degrees, and added empty positions for non-academic subjects, that have been hijacked for political activity.

Meanwhile, the debt burden on our future families has increased.

As the excess gets gets drained out of their budgets, I fully expect to see some low-value schools to fail. This is apparently one of the worst.

JusticeDelivered | February 3, 2019 at 11:33 am

Educational evolution in action, survival of the fittest.

When they go belly up, perhaps some smart cookies could by their campus cheap, and offer an institution which does not tolerate political correctness or any of the grievance BS.

There is clearly a need for schools which teach without trying to indoctrinate.

I hope Hamoshire’s problems don’t cause any difficulties for the Yiddish Book Center, whose facility is located on the college’s campus.

“Progressives” at this and other colleges shoot themselves in the foot and then shed tears when they realize it can hurt.

The invisible hand, coming down like a hammer.

casualobserver | February 3, 2019 at 1:32 pm

Hampshire College was founded as an experiment by the more stable UMass/Amherst College/Smith College trio. One way to look at it is that the experiment lasted 50 years, which is “not so bad.” I don’t think it is just a matter of their liberal nature that is a problem. It’s proving more to me that the model of a tiny VERY expensive free-form college just doesn’t work today. They weren’t having a hard time finding applicants. And full costs are approaching $65-$70k per year, which works just fine for a lot of their potential students – many from the wealthy classes in the Northeast.

I don’t know the details of the financing problems, but it isn’t the usual attrition as best I can tell. Perhaps they are lacking the typical donor class, as so many graduates do not go into industry, but often end up in activism and non-profit types of roles.

    When I did my grad work at UMASS in the 80’s, Hampshire College was called, “Advanced High School for the Rich”.
    If you want to see another reason for its failure, watch SNL’s “Jarret’s Room”.

      casualobserver in reply to rayc. | February 4, 2019 at 12:45 am

      Amazing how much one has changed (UMass)- at least in building and enrollment – while the other has stayed exactly the same.

Any degree that ends in “studies” is useless and any employer who hires such is hiring an enemy of the firm rather than an asset.

Every single employee or any human who receives money from this fine institution needs to be set down in front of two humorless accountants and asked the dreaded questions:

“What exactly do you do around here? And how does it add to our bottom line?”

Anybody using the word ‘prestige’ more than twice should get their pink slip right there at the desk.

Having trouble working my “who gives a sh*t” meter off zero.

I wonder how much of this is related to their goofy politics and lack of structure, and how much of it reflects broader malaise among small liberal arts colleges that have been pricing themselves out of the market for years and years.

I understand that they sang songs during that protest. I wonder if they included this one:

These Progressive schools have the same problem as the Democratic Socialists of America. Now that the mainstream of the Democratic Party is occupying the political space once occupied by DSA, why fool around with a marginal organization like DSA when you can get more bang from a major party? And, since its political space has been usurped, where is DSA to go now?

Now that mainstream colleges and universities (including more than a few state schools) have become least as progressive as these progressive schools were in their heyday, what’s a small progressive school to do?

DouglasJBender | February 5, 2019 at 2:53 am

“Jarret’s Room”. I wonder if that, and Hampshire College generally, is similar to Reed College in Oregon. Painfully, sometime after I got my SAT results as a Senior in high school, I only received three offers (not scholarships) from colleges or universities. One was from Columbia College in Chicago (which I’d never heard of, and which was focused on the arts); another was from the U.S. Military Academy (West Point); and the third was from Reed College in Oregon. In researching what I could about Reed College (mind you, this was in 1980, way before the Internet), it seemed very interesting, but rather weird. So I just enrolled in Indiana University instead, embarking on a life-changing one-month sojourn there.

Anyway, I think this is the first time in my life I’ve ever had the opportunity to share my story about Reed College. Don’t hate me.

What can’t go on, won’t. BTW, since they are drastically reducing their admissions, will the admin staff be reduced?