AAS Candidate Statements for 2023-2024 Senators

The Association of Amherst Students (AAS) will hold elections for eight senators in the class of 2027 and for one transfer student. The students listed have announced their candidacies for these elections.

AAS Candidate Statements for 2023-2024 Senators
Converse’s Red Room, where the AAS meets. Photo courtesy of Amherst College.

The Association of Amherst Students (AAS) will hold elections for senators in the class of 2027 on Friday, Sept. 29, from 12 p.m. to Saturday, Sept. 30 at 11:59 a.m. An election for transfer student seats will take place between 12 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3, and 11:59 am on the following day.

The students below have announced their candidacies for these elections. Students who are interested in hearing from these candidates, or are interested in running but were unable to submit a candidate statement, should attend Speech Night on Wednesday, September 27, at 8 p.m. in Johnson Chapel.

All candidates are listed by position then alphabetically by last name. If the statements end in ellipses, it is because they have been cut off to fit the 100 word limit.

Class of 2027:  

Prakhar Agrawal ’27

Through AAS, I strive to bring the entire student community together by organizing campus-wide events like Halloween and end-of-semester formals. To foster a deeper connection with the outer community and contribute to social concerns, I hope to host fundraising events like 5-10K runs and bake sales. As an international student and a vegetarian, I aspire to represent the international voices on campus and advocate for more vegan/vegetarian options at Val. As a senator, I will also work towards introducing more pre-engineering resources for interested students and creating workshops for skills not covered by courses like graphic design and [...]

Jeb Allen ’27

Hello! My name is Jeb, and I am from Jacksonville, Florida. I have a strong passion for student government and politics but care more about meeting all the students in our class and feeling approachable to everyone. I am a football player, but I would love to bridge the gap between athletes and non-athletes. There is no reason to hate each other when there are 2,099 more deserving students to despise approximately an hour to our left (Williams). I look forward to meeting everyone, and I hope you vote for me to be a representative as a senate member!

Rizwan Ayub ’27

Hey, what’s up everyone! I’m Riz, and I’m super excited to be running to be one of your freshman senators!  I love student government and I want to be there for you at the AAS to ask the tough questions and to leave no stone unturned. Overall, I want more Class Fun through more cool events like another quad-wide Capture the Flag game, movie nights, and more! And if you’re wondering, “how can all of this be done?”  remember that Riz can handle the Biz!

Raina Batra ’27

I am running for AAS because I think there are minor improvements that would make Amherst better. 1. Create an internal quality rating guide for courses, so students have an idea of what the workload and class content look like before pre-registration even starts. It is doable, many of our peer institutions have implemented this in recent years and have not seen adverse impacts. The current amount of information provided in course descriptions makes it difficult to balance a course load each semester. 2. Increase transparency when it comes to budget cuts. Tuition continues to increase while program budgets decrease.

Matas Buitkus ’27

If you had the chance, what would you tell your younger self? Any number of memories, successes, and regrets may jump out, but I would love to tell myself that he can make it happen. Does he want to help his friends? He can make it happen. Does he want to succeed? He can make it happen. Does he want to create a better environment for the class of 2027 at Amherst College by ensuring that their school makes improvements to their facilities, clubs, dining, social life, study spaces, jobs, and campus? I guess we’ll see.

George Daniel Dixon ’27

I'm excited to be running as your senator for the class of 2027. As your senator I will ensure underrepresented groups on campus feel supported through initiatives like the JED project which increases mental health support on campus. As an African American first-generation low-income student, having a strong support system is one of the major contributing factors that has gotten me here today, so it’s a priority that underrepresented groups feel supported not only in regard to mental health, but transitioning and navigating college. And I will work my best to make that a reality.

Angelina Flores ’27

My name is Angelina Flores, I am a first-year and eager to represent you in the AAS senate. I am impassioned about giving a voice to the freshman student body and have already made strides in doing so by sitting in on council meetings and conversing with council members. As I already met many of you and am keen to meet more, I’m most excited to enact the positive change I know you would most want to see. With a personal stake in the first-year experience, I would ensure we'd have fulfilling and exciting experiences to start off our year.

Ventura Garcia-Perez ’27

Hello Class of 2027! My name is Ventura Garcia-Perez, and I’m running for senator. If you don’t know me, I’m the guy from Wyoming. I come from a small town and growing up, community has always been such an important part of my life. Here at Amherst I want to help maintain a strong community by fostering a more proactive and energetic student government. Something that I would like to expand on for the coming year would be more AAS-hosted events, which I believe are a great way to reinvigorate and strengthen relations between AAS and the student body.

Jovante Gonzalez ’27

Hello! My name is Jovante Gonzalez, and I am a member of the class of 2027. I am originally from Springfield, Massachusetts, and plan to major in biochemistry. As a student from a low-income Puerto Rican family, building strong community relationships via collaboration and transparency is critical to who I am. Thus, as a senator, it would be my primary goal to listen to the desires and ideas of all members of our community and turn those wishes into realities. Through this process, I intend to support the development of new community events and traditions that enhance the Amherst experience.

Oscar Gosling ’27

A vote for Oscar Gosling is a vote for community. I’m a freshman in Stearns and believe in the preservation of Amherst’s community life and clubs. I am invested in arts, sports, our diversity and internationalism, and freedom of speech. It is important to defend these pillars of community wellbeing.  I bring a pragmatic approach to decision-making and experience in governance. My track record in local and central government reflects a powerful advocacy not deterred by opposition. I hope you will trust me to be your representative in important matters such as academic policies, club funding, community events, and dining.

Benjamin Henry ’27

Class of 2027. I am running for senate because I believe in the power of unity and student-driven change. Over this past month, I've seen the potential for growth and improvement within our school. I envision a future where every student's voice is heard and our ideas become actions. As your representative, I'll work tirelessly to create a positive and inclusive environment where we can thrive academically and socially. Together, we can organize events, enhance learning experiences, and address concerns effectively. Vote for me, and let's embark on this journey of progress and empowerment.

AnneKatherine Johnson ’27

Hey y’all! I’m AnneKatherine Johnson and I’m thrilled to be running for class of 2027 Senator. I want to focus on two main issues. As a student of color, I know the importance of all voices being represented equally so I will ensure your voices are heard (to both the senate and administration), which includes increasing transparency about topics such as the endowment. I also believe it's important to work on increasing community between the Five Colleges. I know I have a lot to learn and I can’t promise extensive change, but it also wouldn't hurt to see if I [...]

Ethan Lin ’27

Hi everyone — I’m Ethan Lin! I’m excited to announce my candidacy for AAS! I’m focusing on the future rather than my past leadership experiences—with that, I believe in the power and importance of collaboration and student representation. I’ll shine light on the inadequacies on campus and will make a tremendous effort to advocate for us. I’m not going to shy away from a fight, and I want YOU to know that I’ll work tirelessly to ensure that you’re HEARD. I’m committed to fostering a community—supporting initiatives that create legacies for our class. WE CAN DO IT, TOGETHER.

Claire Liu ’27

Hey everyone! My name is Claire Liu and I’m from California and China, and I’m running to represent the class of 2027 in AAS. Amherst is unique in that it fosters close-knit communities in academic and social spaces, and it is this aspect that makes me believe we can bring meaningful change to this campus. As your senator, I will prioritize inclusivity in all forms, including increasing the visibility of affinity student groups and opportunities for collaboration. I will also create an open channel for your ideas and concerns and ensure promises made are followed through.

Ellia Masenior ’27

I’m Ellia Masenior, a first-year student. Throughout the year, you’ll see me running on trails around campus, spending hours in the Science Center, or trying cake from all the local bakeries! I am an old soul — I value kindness, positivity, and hard work. I believe that we can all learn from each other and work as a team to achieve common goals: we are all experts in something and have our own unique stories. If elected, I would aim to converge the individual strengths of all students, work to lift others up and spread joy amongst the Amherst College community.

Naomi Meyer ’27

Hi! I’m Naomi, and I’m from Maryland. I love dance, arguing, languages, dogs, and history. I’m running for senator because I’m passionate about getting involved at Amherst and advocating for the class of ’27. In high school I did debate and mock trial, so I’m able to effectively construct and present arguments. If elected, I’d work to arrange an annual blood-drive. My camp, where I work as a counselor, organizes one every summer and makes it so easy to do a good deed. I’d love the opportunity to introduce this and similar projects to help us all make a difference.

Uchenna Monplaisir ’27

Hello everyone, I’m Uchenna Monplaisir and I’m so excited for the opportunity to run as your senator for class of 2027! Last year, I headed my high school’s mental health club; I hope to use that experience in addition to your input to further the work of the senate’s mental health committee. Furthermore, I hope to greatly improve your Val experiences on the Dining Committee. I’m looking forward to meeting and working with you guys to create a better Amherst experience for us all.

Marvin Oprean ’27

Napoleon (and my roommate occasionally on weekends) famously exclaimed, “There Is Nothing We Can Do.” I’m Marvin Oprean from Romania, and I’m here to ensure that There Is Something We Can Do. As someone who has lived in seven countries and visited 85, I want to bring my global perspective in tackling issues such as creating better meals at Val, endowment-funded student allowances, and a bigger, more inclusive social life. I look forward to receiving your votes in exchange for my fierce determination to maintain a community that We The People will mold… together! Also, I’ll fix the loud construction.

Yash Patel ’27

Hey, y’all. My name is Yash Patel and I am running for a freshman seat on senate. My platform focuses on community engagement and updates to the dining hall. I have seen from my few weeks in Amherst, that the community is always supportive and engaging. I have plans to encourage different groups on campus to engage with one another and create a better Amherst College. Moreover, I would like to bring back to-go boxes to Val. Val is exceptionally crowded multiple times a day. I believe that to-go boxes will help to address this issue and make Val a [...]

Simon Pearl ’27

Class of ‘27: I’m Simon, and I’m looking for your vote in the student senate election. I’m eager to learn in our weekly meetings, help organize and lead school-wide events, and more. I’ll get things done, as I have in the past. As the sole American representative on the African Leadership Academy student government during a semester abroad program, I wrote, starred in, and edited a “Day in the Life” video now sent to all prospective and incoming students. It’s early, but I’m already dedicated to this community. With your vote, I will help maximize this academic year and beyond.

Sebastian Pollock ’27

Over the past month, I have met hundreds of incredible personalities through various classes, clubs, and departments that comprise our vibrant community. Presiding over this community as one of your senators would be an honor. As a senator, I plan to amplify community engagement and collaboration between different groups. As a member of The Amherst Student, I want to start a column to inform you precisely what happens at each meeting. If elected, I will regularly seek opportunities to ensure your voice is heard and your interests are represented. Thank you for considering me as your senator.

Sofia Salazar ’27

Hi everyone! My name is Sofia Salazar, and I am running for a position in the AAS Senate class of 2027. I am involved in Club Volleyball, Math Club, and Crafting Club, and I would love to represent your voice in council. My goals include organizing an unforgettable Pink Out Rave this fall, relaunching the “Lip Sync” tradition for better sophomore housing, and diluting the dense orientation schedule with fun local trips. I’ve had experience in student government in high school, and it's inspiring to see how impactful our voices can be to spark change. Thank you, and Vote Sof!

Sofiia Syzonenko ’27

Hello, Amherst College students! My name is Sofiia Syzonenko, and I am running for the 2027 class senate. As a senator, I am committed to ensuring that every voice in our community is heard. To do that, I plan to establish open forums where students can freely express their thoughts and ideas. One of my primary objectives as a senator is to advocate for more social events that bring the entire campus community together. While Amherst College is renowned for its rigorous academics, it lacks larger campus events that allow students from different grade levels to create connections.

Bilal Tariq  ’27

Hi! I’m Bilal Tariq. Throughout my life, I’ve always fought for representation. Representing those whose voices are suppressed. Representing those afraid to be judged because of their background. This year, I want to represent you. My fellow mammoths, vote for me so I can represent our People in Purple.

Noah Turbes ’27

I am Noah Turbes, a first-year from Atlanta, Georgia. I am excited to represent my classmates in the Association of Amherst Students. Working with the Stacey Abrams campaign and U.S. Senators Ossoff and Warnock over the past year, I will carry my experiences in politics to the table to best represent my peers. I have met countless students with unique backgrounds and interests, and look forward to fostering a community where we can connect and display our talents across group boundaries through dorm-specific social and athletic events, musical and artistic performances, and readiness fairs tailored to first-year students.

Brandon Um ’27

Hello, class of 2027! I’m Brandon Um, a naturalized citizen from Aliso Viejo, California, located almost directly between San Diego and Los Angeles. As a senator, I seek to listen to my constituents, which would be all of you, and ensure that the best of this community is brought forth by the student government. My greatest dedication as a representative would be to ensure that the AAS truly accomplishes embodying the ideals and wishes of the freshmen population; any opinion of any Amherst freshmen would be my concern. I will exercise more effort than any other to represent you!

Alicia Xin ’27

Hi everyone! My name is Alicia Xin, and I’m originally from New York. I’m running for AAS senator because I witnessed firsthand our administration’s shortcomings when I contracted Covid during the first week of classes. Despite the budget cuts, Amherst should be able to respond to our basic needs and spend money according to students’ priorities. As a senator, I’d focus my attention on enhancing our school’s sustainability measures, increasing budget transparency, and improving Val’s dietary restrictions options (as well as rethinking the white rice formula…).

Transfer Students:

Erik Arciniega ’25

Hello, my name is Erik Arciniega, and I am running for reelection for the transfer senator position. In my short tenure, the student body’s disenchantment with their senate was palpable. I thought this was an issue that could be resolved with accountability and competency, but I have quickly realized that increasing enthusiasm is a grassroots effort. As your Senator in the coming year, you have my commitment that I will do everything in my power to deliver the Senate’s enthusiasm to my constituency, so we may enjoy theirs in return.