AAS approves funding for ski team

Treasurer Richa Bhala ’07 informed the senate that the budget increased by $29,745 due to recently added rollover funds not spent during the previous year. In response to several senators’ surprise at the sum, Bhala explained that a number of clubs requested funds for speakers and other events which did not materialize. The ski team was cited for their disuse of $6,000 that they were allocated.

Senator Avi Das ’07 moved to separate the ski team’s BC recommendation from the rest of the budget as he believed it would cause a “long, protracted discussion” and hoped to pass the rest quickly. Senator Dave Gottlieb ’06 objected but was outnumbered in the vote, which succeeded in dividing the budget.

Senator Josh Stein ’08 moved to approve all non-ski team budget allocations. The motion passed unanimously. Stein moved to approve the BC recommendation for the ski team. The senate approved after much discussion.

Das admitted that he was “heartily divided,” as in the past the ski team asked for a very large amount of money that it did not spend, and also because he considered the activity “prohibitively expensive” for students. Senators also expressed concern because the team is very small and offers little to the school community. Furthermore, some senators argued that the previous $6,000 allocated to the team had not been used appropriately.

Senator Robert Cobbs ’06 moved to withhold funding from the ski team. “The issue [with past funding] was one of deception,” he said. “The team cuts out a good segment of the Amherst population. [We] should either fund a gazillion dollars or none at all.”

Representatives of the ski team Owen Hofmann ’06 and Kate Raddock ’06 defended the team, saying that the team made every accommodation for those who wanted to ski but could not afford the dues or equipment costs. “AAS’s job is to fund the club sports, the things that not everyone does,” said Raddock.

Hofmann added that a number of freshmen had already expressed interest in joining the club, and that the BC allocation would allow for there to be a club for the first-years to join.

Bhala reminded the senate that the ski team’s request for $965 was an “extremely reasonable amount” and that “unless the senate was willing to slash and dash the budget,” omitting all other organizations whose budgetary requests resembled the ski team’s, there was no good argument against defunding the team. The motion to withhold funding from the ski team failed, and the motion to approve funding passed 18-6 with one abstention.

Stein presented his follow-up report from the WAMH concert, which the AAS funded. He reported that 60-70 people had attended the event.

Senator Emily Silberstein ’06 suggested a senator order be passed asking all clubs to record on their check request form details such as how many students attended the event, how it was funded and how the money was spent. Secretary Austin Yim ’08 offered to draft the form.

Senator Patrick Benson ’08 announced that he, Senator Adam Bookman ’08, Senator Raj Borsellino ’08, and President Mike Simmons ’06 have formed a committee to foster greater support of athletics on campus.

Simmons thanked Borsellino for running the freshman elections and noted that many “projects are moving along at a really good pace.” He then reiterated Silberstein’s point about the need for clubs to document how an event is organized to prevent money from going to waste. Simmons reminded the senate that it must stay consistent in how it funds clubs, noting that the budget allocations for crew and equestrian, clubs with similar funding patterns to the ski team’s, would soon be discussed.

Silberstein announced that the Committee on Educational Policy examined a Five College Film Studies major and a Russian and Eastern European Studies certificate program and recommended both to the faculty.

Simmons notified the senate that no action regarding divestment from Sudan would be taken until after fall break. Simmons also announced that he has invited Eric Reeves, professor of English at Smith College and internationally-recognized authority on the Sudanese genocide, to speak at Amherst on the genocide and the movement to divest from companies supporting it on Oct. 13.