2021-2022 AAS Senate Candidate Statements

The Association of Amherst Students (AAS) will hold elections for the Senate and Judiciary Council at-large positions on Thursday, April 29. A speech night will be held virtually on Wednesday, April 28 at 8 p.m EST. Each class will elect eight senators. The transfer student senate election will be held in the fall. 

Candidates and their statements are listed by class year then alphabetically by last name. 

Class of 2022

Mattea Denney

I’m running for Senate simply because I care deeply about our community. As I head into my senior year, I am committed to doing everything I can to make Amherst a better place for both current and future students. As a senator, I will work to promote equity among students, ensure a smooth and safe transition back to on-campus learning and shape Amherst into the best community it can be. I promise to always listen to and work for student voices!

Ilyssa Forman (incumbent)

I have served on AAS for the past two years and have worked tirelessly to advocate for FLI, LGBTQ2IA+ and BIPOC students. If re-elected, my priorities will be improving student mental health and wellbeing, working toward a culture of disability justice and accessibility and disarming and ultimately abolishing ACPD. Thank you for your time, and I hope you’ll consider voting for me!

Cole Graber-Mitchell (incumbent)

In my two years as a senator, I’ve worked directly with faculty and the provost to hire and retain faculty of color and pressured the administration on climate issues, like hiring a new director of environmental sustainability and continuing the timely implementation of the Climate Action Plan. I also launched a pilot project to give free access to the Daily Hampshire Gazette to all students. Going forward, we need better mental health services, especially for Black students, and more data on Amherst’s inequities. On Senate, I pledge to always fight for students of color, low-income students and first-gen[eration] students.

Sofia Guerra (incumbent)

As a returning senator, I’m excited by the opportunity to further the objectives of #ReclaimAmherst [and] the Climate Action Plan and expand much-needed access to the Counseling Center. I will expand upon my Senate project, the town hall with ACPD, to go beyond dialogue and achieve disarmament. I will continue to increase the visibility of our many hard-working RSOs [Registered Student Organizations], uplift the diversity organizing of underrepresented students in STEM and take concrete steps to make the AAS more accessible to the at-large community, especially the FLI community.

Brooke Harrington (former)

I have enjoyed my time as an AAS senator and treasurer over the past three years, and I’d like to keep helping out with the Budgetary Committee next year as well.

Courtney Resch (incumbent)

As a first-year senator [this past] year, I found the culture of the meetings unwelcoming and problematic. Next year I’d like to work with the E-Board to make meetings more accessible for students and welcoming for new members. I will also continue supporting the #ReclaimAmherst demands, focusing specifically on the push to disarm ACPD. Lastly, as one of the senators behind the Amherst Marriage Pact, I’d like to run the survey again next year, hoping to instill it as a tradition within the Amherst community for years to come.

Class of 2023

Sydney Ireland (incumbent)

For the past two years, I’ve represented this class as a senator, and I would be honored to serve for another year. I have been a reliable member of [the] Budgetary [Committee], as well as the Committee on Priorities and Resources and a member of the Covid-19 Task Force. I’m working with another senator to provide access for all students to Headspace, a meditation app. I will advocate to implement a Racial Justice Committee [to] ensur[e] that the Senate is directly addressing the needs of students of color.

Yvette Kiptoo (incumbent)

As we return back to a new normal, I hope that we reflect on this past year to appreciate the parts of Amherst that we love and recognize what needs to change. As a senator, I hope to be an advocate for the student body, particularly FLI and BIPOC students. Additionally, I want to increase accessibility on campus by creating an accessibility committee to make sure that policies such as asynchronous lectures are still available after “Zoom University.” I am looking forward to seeing everyone on campus and organizing various campus-wide events, especially after the success of my TYPO-R program.

Marley Nascimento Friedrick

I am running to advocate for social equity, reparations and place-making at Amherst College. Our institution systematically perpetuates violence against its marginalized community members and has been doing so since its founding. This cannot continue — the college needs to change with immediacy. I will default my priorities as a senator to student-led organizations such as, but not limited to, the Black Students Union (BSU), Native and Indigenous Students Association (NISA), Direct Action Coordinating Committee (DACC) and Sunrise Amherst and Divestment Coalition. During my time as a senator, I am determined to attain a Queer-themed dormitory and abolish ACPD entirely. We deserve to feel safe and Amherst, including AAS, needs to be held accountable.

Maira Owais (incumbent)

Over the past year, I have collaborated on election changes, a pop-up thrift store and an upcoming underclassmen dinner. This show[s] the tangible work I have done [to address] students’ needs, something I hope to do substantially more of in the future. I believe that, more than ever, the AAS needs to act not just as a “bridge” to the administration but as a facilitator of resistance and advocacy. I hope that I can use my experiences with AAS, different offices [on campus] and the Covid-19 Task Force to create this meaningful change, if given the opportunity.

Kailyn Shepherd

I would love the opportunity to share my perspective as a Black woman and to voice the needs and concerns of all students, but especially those in marginalized groups. I aim to make Amherst College a more inclusive community! I also believe in the importance of mental health, and as a senator, I will advocate for the demands made by the #BlackMindsMatter movement. As an athlete at the college, I will also aim to provide better mental health resources within the athletic department. If elected, I promise to be a voice for everyone!

Sirus Wheaton (incumbent)

This past year as a 2023 AAS senator, I worked to make Amherst more accessible and equitable. I created a pilot program that will distribute a month’s supply of environmentally friendly, plastic-free laundry detergent and toothpaste in every dorm on campus. I am dedicated to the #ReclaimAmherst committee where we are working to abolish ACPD. As we all heard during the #BlackMindsMatter walkout, Amherst still has a lot to do before its BIPOC students feel safe and at home. This fundamental lacking is what I had, and will continue to [dedicate] myself to alleviating in the Senate.

Jalen Woodard (incumbent)

I’ve served as the treasurer for the Black Student Union for two years and, as a current senator, served on the Committee on Educational Policy, Appointments Committee and Reclaim Amherst Committee. During my time as a senator, I developed the Delivery Express subsidy program, providing students with a coupon code for Delivery Express and gift cards for some students. I have worked within the #ReclaimAmherst Committee to relaunch the Amherst Acts initiative, persuading the administration to match student and faculty donations to three non-profit organizations. Moreover, one year into my two-year term on the Committee on Educational Policy (CEP), I have offered my perspective as a low-income student and fervently advocated for more faculty of color and #BlackMindsMatter demands. If re-elected, I will continue my work on the CEP, ensuring that the administration and faculty are aware of and address the needs of first-generation, low-income students, those who hold historically marginalized identities and those with special needs. Moreover, I will advocate for more full-time counselors and counselors of color for the Counseling Center and for a more inclusive environment within AAS for all students. It would be an honor to serve as your senator.

Class of 2024

Lorett Alarcon (incumbent)

In the past year, I have joined the New Student Committee and have voted in favor of policies that favor FLI students on campus. For my senator project, I organized an underclassmen dinner in collaboration with my fellow senators. As a freshman FLI student, I relate to an important minority in the student body which needs more representation by the student government. I am dedicated to listening to what the student population wants to see on campus and hope I can be re-elected to represent you, the student body, as a senator this upcoming year.

Cal Gelernt

As a senator, I would bring unique insight and passion to every conversation. At a time when we deal with so many challenges, both on campus and in the world more broadly, I would push for the college to create more ways to support students and improve student life, whether that be improving dining hall amenities or strengthening mental health services. But most importantly, as a senator, I would constantly not only listen to but actively seek out the input of the class on all issues impacting our community and bring those concerns to every meeting.

Dan Gonzalez-Kosasky (incumbent)

I am a freshman from Maryland, and I have nearly reached the end of my first year as a senator. As one of your senators, I have proudly served on the Judiciary Council, on the Sustainability Committee and briefly on the #ReclaimAmherst Committee. As a member of these vastly different but extremely important committees, I have worked to make Amherst a better place for all of my peers. A vote for Dan is a vote for continued outreach and growth in our student government — a vote for Dan is a vote for [a] better Amherst.

Dania Hallak

I am a first-year, a FLI student and a recent immigrant. With these intersecting identities, I hope to advocate for many on campus. I hope to bridge the gap between AAS and the student body by making it more accessible to share concerns (from Val food to lack of opportunities or affinity spaces). I’m committed to making campus a more inclusive space by increasing diversity training for both students and faculty. If you have any concerns, please feel free to email me. After all, my job is to advocate for you!

Allie Ho (incumbent)

As an experienced senator, I’m aware of how the college works and my abilities as a senator to change things. In my first year, I worked on approving a $195,000 capital project to construct water bottle refill stations in all residence halls that do not have one and worked on making AAS an official consultant in the college’s yearly capital project requests. I’m currently working on improving sustainability by expanding access to compost bins throughout the campus. As a queer, low-income person of color, I want to continue working as your senator on sustainability and advocat[ing] for marginalized students’ ideas and problems.

Obi Okoli (incumbent)

I’m running for re-election for my second term in the Senate. This year, I spent time on the Budgetary Committee and the #ReclaimAmherst Committee. It was a great learning experience as I further defined my priorities as a student representative. On #ReclaimAmherst, I collaborated with students within the Senate and at the Office of Student Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (OSDEI), researching ways to increase diversity on sports teams. I also worked with other members of AAS and the Native and Indigenous Students Association (NISA) to establish the Indigenous Peoples Fund for Indigenous People. If elected to Senate, I plan to continue the important work that makes Amherst a more inclusive environment.

Judiciary Council

Alex Jabor ’23 (incumbent)

My experiences on our mock trial team and doing rule of law research at a think tank and on campus have prepared me to serve as an effective JC [Judiciary Council] member. During this past term, I co-authored the AAS election reforms to increase transparency, expand voting rights for students and adapt our elections to the current moment. If re-elected, I will continue to devote myself to revising our Constitution to ensure it reflects our values as an evolving student body and makes the AAS more accessible and transparent.

Sterling Kee ’23 (incumbent)

I was chair of the Judiciary Council this past year, and I’m running to be a standard-issue member for next year. As chair, my job was to review the Constitution with the Council and recommend amendments to the Senate. We passed a few and got the ball rolling on a few more, and I’d like to maintain that momentum as a member. Having been a senator and JC Chair, I know just how screwy the Constitution is in some places, and I have a good sense of how to fix those errors. Vote for me!