AAS discusses senate responsibilities

Vice President Noah Isserman ’07 announced that he will check up on senators’ readings of the weekly agenda and BC recommendations by using the online Blackboard system. He said that he was distressed this week because 15 senators had failed to look at these items on Blackboard before 8:16 p.m. Isserman consequently announced that any senator who fails to read the agenda and BC recommendations before 8:30 p.m. next week will receive half an absence.

Treasurer Richa Bhala ’07 said that the BC had looked over the budget requests submitted by clubs for spring 2006 and has begun to hold individual meetings with them. Club requests add up to $250,000, but only $150,000 is currently available for allocation during the budgeting process. Therefore, the BC and AAS will be forced to make many cuts this time around.

While discussing the BC recommendations, Matthew Vanneman ’06, the representative for the Amherst crew team, explained that an allocation of $1,070 to purchase sliders-equipment used to better simulate the motion of real boats and allow up to four rowing machines to be linked together-will enhance the team’s success. “These sliders will allow us to be a lot faster,” he said. The AAS voted to increase the crew allocation to this amount.

Senator Patrick Benson ’08 motioned to decrease the allocation to the karate team by half. He said that karate dues are $10 per person per semester, which is low considering that karate members keep their uniforms. “The uniform has a symbolic meaning,” Andrea Gyorody ’07 explained. “Apparently, it’s a tradition to keep it.”

Senator Rania Arja ’06 claimed that it was unconstitutional for anyone to keep AAS property and recommended funding the cost of the uniforms only if Bhala would make sure that they were handed down. Senator David Gottlieb ’06 pointed out that the uniforms’ value will depreciate after a four-year period. “They might not be worth that much after four years, [soiled with] sweat and blood,” said Gottlieb. They decided not to decrease the funding for the uniforms by a vote of 18-7.

The AAS also discussed Youth Action International’s (YAI) request for $2,132 for a speaker who visited last semester. Gyorody explained that the request doesn’t have many of the requirements that the BC normally looks for in a request, such as the speaker’s name. Senator Mira Serrill-Robins ’06 also said that YAI should have submitted the request last semester and discussed the unconstitutionality of the request. With a vote of 13-12, the allocation was denied.

Rothschild also discussed senators’ perceptions of their responsibilities. She cited her concern regarding a lack of respect for the College’s constitution and senators’ penchant for calling and even moving a motion before sufficient debate has ensued. Senator Raj Borsellino ’08 expressed that if a senator’s mind is made up, there is nothing wrong with him or her calling the question. Senator Avanindra Das ’07 criticized the constitution, encouraging others to write a new constitution that would better serve the interests of the student body. Gottlieb added, “It would be great if we had a constitution we could respect.”

Secretary Austin Yim ’08 and Isserman explained that much of the present constitution is a reaction to the old Student Government Organization (SGO). “The constitution is more or less a declaration of independence from the SGO,” Isserman said. Rothschild, ignoring his argument, expressed the opposing view. “I ask that senators take the constitution seriously,” she said.

Committee elections then took place. Senator Ayyappan Venkatraman ’09 was elected to the Dining Services committee; Jordan McKay ’07, Senator Adam Bookman ’08 and Senator Paul Nielson ’09 to the Space Allocations committee; Senator Jelani Lundy-Harris ’09 to the Interdepartmental Fund; and Gottlieb was elected as FLICS representative.