AAS disputes Hamster funding; hears class council project plans

Treasurer Livia Angiolillo ’04 recommended allocation $9,971.85 to clubs and announced a budget of about $70,000 remaining for this semester. These funds were divided among several clubs, including the Amherst College Democrats, the Progressive Students’ Alliance, the fencing club and The Amherst Hamster. After Livia made her recommendation for the last organization, a lengthy debate ensued.

Following its usual policy towards campus publications, the BC allotted 60 percent of the funding that The Hamster requested for each issue, or $7,330. This included some money for advertisement off-campus. The BC denied funding that The Hamster requested for the purchase of a giant hamster costume.

Two members of the staff of The Hamster were present at the meeting to plead their case. They wanted increased funding so that they could distribute their product to the other five colleges and to the Amherst community.

Senators wanted to know why people outside of the College would be interested in the magazine. “We try to appeal to ideas and occurrences that are common to the college experience,” said Jonah Ansell ’03, a founding member of The Hamster.

“I think that students’ money should fund activities on campus, not distribution of a magazine off-campus,” said senator Ben Baum ’03.

One of the primary reasons for the controversy was the outstanding bill from last semester owed by The Hamster to Collective Copies. This is the first monetary problem the AAS has had during a year when it will be audited by the Internal Revenue Service.

Ansell would not comment on the outstanding money, saying that it was irrelevant to this semester’s budget. Angiolillo also declined to comment this week, agreeing to make a presentation to the senate at the next meeting. “[The Hamster] had to leave Collective Copies. I’m going to tell you why next week,” Angiolillo told the AAS.

After extensive discussion, the BC’s weekly recommendations were all passed.

The next election of the AAS will be held on Feb. 25 to fill one sophomore class senate seat, two junior class seats, one judiciary committee seat and the office of judiciary committee chair, which was recently vacated by Jun Matsui ’03.

The elections committee will organize the schoolwide vote with one member fewer than normal, due to Rocío Digón’s ’03 resignation Monday night from the elections committee. Digón resigned in order to be able to serve on the committee on discipline.

Several committees and classes made reports on their progress and upcoming projects. The committee on alternatives to diversity seats will hold a meeting for the general student body this Thursday at 9 p.m. to gain student input regarding the issue.

The New York Times readership committee reported on its meetings with President Tom Gerety. At first, Gerety was unreceptive to the proposal to provide copies on campus of The New York Times for students to take for free. Gerety eventually agreed to try the plan on a small scale. The committee believed the trial plan was a success and decided to conduct a survey in Valentine Hall to try to prove a need for free newspapers on campus. According to the survey, approximately three times as many students were able to identify “Joe Millionaire” as were able to identify the United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector. The committee plans to continue communication with Gerety.

The freshman class council presented its all-school benefitting project. It will provide students with the materials to make cards for Valentine’s Day and then will distribute them, along with candy and refreshments.

The junior class council also announced that its project would be a “build-your-own-sled competition,” according to Luke Swarthout ’04. The senate will choose a site other than Memorial Hill, where campus police have stopped students from sledding.

Secretary Alex Linden ’04 reported on possible additions to the AAS bulletin board, located in Keefe Campus Center.

According to Rania Arja ’06, some students have commented on the shuttle to Bradley Airport. The committee that organized the shuttle plans to do a wider survey and possibly make changes before the end of the year, when the AAS plans to offer the service again.

Director of Information Technology Phil Fitz made a presentation to the senate on the many ongoing changes his department has been making. He addressed the issues of bandwidth, packet-shaping-the College’s method for prioritizing web-traffic-the email and main server upgrades and the IT department’s current cost-saving efforts.

The senate passed a motion to start an advertising campaign in conjunction with the IT department. The ads will encourage students to remove download programs like Kazaa which turn personal computers into servers, which is a major consumer of the College’s bandwidth.