Student journalists at Amherst College were incensed by vandalism on campus and verbal harassment of some co-eds during homecoming last weekend. Monday, in the college paper, they issued this strident warning "Our Note to Alumni: Grow Up or Stay Home."

My, my. Times really seem to be changing.

These are the same alumni who have raised $24.3 million for the college as part of a five-year fund-raising drive. Amherst officials are not happy with the editorial. The alumni office is referring all questions to the school. And the student chairman of the editorial board of The Amherst Student, which published the unsigned editorial, was called to the president's office late yesterday.

Whatever happened to the days when students would fall down drunk with the alumni and homecoming weekends were one big happy party?

"Recalling the worst of their college days, many alumni were back to romp in what they seemed to think was their private playground," the editorial said. "Drinking irresponsibly, all too many did damage to college dorms and fraternities with puerile delight . . .

"Worse, students themselves were as fair game as frat houses. Women in particular were harassed at parties and, in at least one case, rudely heckled while performing at an alumni function."

Christen Kronin, a senior who wrote the editorial, said yesterday that she had been personally "harassed by several alumni."

"I think our biggest motivation is our growing concern with alcohol abuse," she said. "A lot of them leave their wives at home and come back and act like this."

About 2,000 alumni and their families descended on the western Massachusetts campus Saturday to watch Amherst play arch-rival Williams. Undergraduates hosted parties in dormitories and fraternities after the game.

"It was wild," Brad Campbell, a senior at Amherst and chairman of the newspaper editorial board of 25 students, said yesterday. "I first thought about how bad they behaved when I woke up Sunday morning and had to leave my dorm through a broken glass door."

Campbell offered some pop-psychology on what may best be described as the alumni's misplaced anger.

"There seems to be a persistent trend that a lot of the men resent the fact the college is now coed, they feel compelled to voice this after they have had a few," said Campbell.

Amherst, a prestigious liberal arts college of 1,500, went coed in 1976. Campbell thinks the alumni are not used to women.

"It was really pretty bad," he said. "An all-female singing group performed for one of the dinners and they were harassed until they couldn't sing anymore. When they went to leave, the men started singing a lewd song."

Yesterday, Amherst officials were sifting through the rubble privately and assessing the damage. The president, Julian Gibbs, was not taking any calls. And a man who answered the phone said, "Write what you want . . . Go ahead and write just what the students say."

"At this point, all I can really say is that we have all read the editorial and are now looking into the incidents that allegedly took place," said college spokesman Carl Vigelund, who was reached at home. "We had all felt at the conclusion of weekend that it was a successful weekend.

"Of course, we're concerned that it might be true. But regardless of whether or not the reports are true, all the positive things that came out of the weekend were lost."

Except one. Amherst smashed Williams, 52-26.