By Remy Schwartz

April 1, 2013


Switchboard has functioned primarily as a forum to discuss national and local cultural happenings and we tend to avoid standard news coverage as much as possible. That being said, we can’t ignore the news coming out of South Hadley today.  In an early morning press conference, Mount Holyoke College president Lynn Pasquerella announced the college’s withdrawal from the Five College Consortium.

“After a great deal of consideration and discussion, we’ve decided that Mount Holyoke  will function more successfully as an independent institution, free of the constraints and limitations of the consortium,” Ms. Pasqerella told a small group of reporters. “We’ve been contemplating this decision for a few semesters, and we think the time has come to go our separate ways.”

Mt. Holyoke was one of four founding members of the Five College Consortium in 1965. The small women’s college joined with UMass Amherst, Amherst College, and Smith College in an effort to share knowledge and resources with students throughout the Pioneer Valley. In 1970, the four schools worked together to help found Hampshire College, the fifth member.

“We’ve all been together for a long time now. We founded this partnership in the mid-sixties, and it seemed like a great idea then. But 1965 was full of ‘great ideas’, and we all knew we’d have to grow up someday,” Ms. Pasquerella said. “I honestly think we just need to be alone for a little while. We need some space to rediscover our independence.”

She went on to explain the frustrations that have been mounting amidst the staff and students over the last decade. She cited logistical and bureaucratic reasons as the driving force of the split. She claimed that the complications of decoding five systems of grading, credit hours, and educational major requirements we’re becoming too much of a strain on the college’s Registrar office.

Pasquerella also made subtle mention of mounting irritation in the Mt. Holyoke community against visiting five college students. Her exact quote was unclear on this subject, but we audibly heard her mumble the words ‘pretentious’ and ‘unclean’ as she flipped through a pile of notes she’d dropped beside the podium she was speaking from.

“Listen, we’re done. We’re strong and independent, and we’re ready to do this on our own,” she said, regaining her composure. “We had a lot of fun, we went through a lot together, but Mount Holyoke is ready to move into a new phase of our life. We can totally stay friends.”

5 Colleges Inc., UMass, Hampshire, and Smith all declined to comment on this story. A spokesperson from Biddy Martin’s office, the president of Amherst College, mentioned that they had seen this coming for months, and weren’t surprised. He told us that they support Mount Holyoke in their decision and that they’ll try to stay in touch, but think that a friendship is pretty unlikely, considering.

Stay with us for updates as this story progresses and more details become available in the coming days.