2020-2021 AAS Senate Candidate Statements

From Thursday, Sept. 24 to Friday Sept. 26, the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) will hold elections for AAS Senators in each grade and transfer students. 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, Sept. 23 at 7:00 p.m. E.S.T. via Zoom. 

All candidates are listed by position then alphabetically by first name. If the statements end abruptly, it is because they have been cut off to fit in under 100 words. 

Class of 2021 

Bella Edo

My name is Bella Edo, and I’m running for a seat as a senior class senator. I’ve been an advocate for student interests during my time at Amherst, and I’d like to use my final year to continue that advocacy through the powerful mechanism of student government. My leadership experience, passion for equity, commitment to representation and enthusiasm about working collaboratively would enable me to assist in executing the demands and promises made of and from Amherst for this year. It would be my honor to be a voice for our class. I hope you consider me!

Ben Gilsdorf

My name is Ben Gilsdorf, and I am running to regain my seat on AAS, after I was abroad in the spring. I am committed to supporting this e-board in making Amherst a fairer, more inclusive and just institution, and doing what I can to make our final year at Amherst the best it can be. My prior work includes putting the printer in Val, serving on the Covid Task Force and leading ACVotes. Feel free to email me with any questions and ideas you have.

Robert Parker

Hi! My name is Robert Parker, and I am a senior political science major. I am a captain of the men’s squash team and president of the Investment Club, and this year I am living off-campus in the town of Amherst. After reflecting on my first three years at Amherst, I decided to run for Senate because I am interested in finding creative solutions to the current challenges that the college faces. In my last year, I want to help all students feel as connected to each other and campus life as possible.

Andrea Webb

Hi Mammoths! I’m Andrea Webb, a fourth-year student studying math and economics, and I would love to serve another year as a representative of my class in the Senate. In my last three terms as a Senator, I have served on over 10 committees including the Budgetary Committee, Dining Committee, etc. I am passionate about making student life accessible and keeping student government accountable and transparent.

Class of 2022

Cole Graber-Mitchell

As your Senator, I’ve fought hard for all Amherst students — and I’ll continue that fight if re-elected. Last year, I organized a powerful climate strike and argued forcefully for paying AAS workers $15 an hour. And when Covid-19 hit, I successfully negotiated universal FGO with the faculty members of the Committee on Educational Policy. In the coming year, I’ll push Amherst to recommit to climate action per the Climate Action Plan, spearhead access to the Daily Hampshire Gazette for all students, and amend the AAS Constitution to work better for everyone.

Courney Resch

Hello! My name’s Courtney Resch, and I am running for AAS Senate! First, I want to make sure the college is being held accountable for following the plan against anti-Black racism they devised this past summer. I also want to focus on the wellbeing and connection of students on and off-campus by making events as accessible as possible for students in various time zones. I’d also work with various organizations to make safe socialization opportunities a priority. There are plenty of ways Amherst can adapt to virtual socialization, and I’m ready to take on that challenge!

Jake Shapiro

The junior class has not had their voices heard by AAS or the college. Since releasing fall plans, the administration and AAS have not provided substantive resources or support for off-campus juniors. They haven’t fostered connections between our class and the community. I will change that. Though we’re taking classes remotely, Amherst shouldn’t feel remote. I’ll ensure that off-campus students feel connected to and receive more resources from the college. I promise that every junior will have their voice heard and their needs addressed by AAS and the administration, so we can become a greater part of the community. 

Jae Yun Ham

My name is Jae Yun, and I am running for a third term to represent you in the AAS Senate. Right now, our campus is at an important crossroads with the COVID pandemic and the important #ReclaimAmherst campaign. We need strong leadership to guide our campus community for the future. As your senator, I helped institute free printing and free laundry, and worked hard to advocate for an Asian American studies major. For my next term, I will work hard to represent your voice and to ensure that AAS and its budget remains accountable and transparent to you.

Class of 2023 

Fareeda Adejumo

Hi! I am Fareeda Adejumo, and I am running to be your class Senator. I am running because I truly love student government (the debate, the decorum and the ideas). As a senator last year, I worked on several projects. I created a campus-wide mafia game, a finals hot chocolate bar and I was heavily involved in the AAS [donation] matching campaign for racial justice. Furthermore, I voted and voiced my opinion on several issues. I am re-running to be YOUR representative and to continue fighting for the issues that are important to you. Thank You!

James Hulsizer

This year, we face a new challenge, but this challenge comes with opportunity: to revolutionize and re-evaluate Amherst culture. We must lay the foundations for a new Amherst experience through herd unity and community. Let’s take advantage of the might of the herd and strengthen our community by redefining empowerment of students of color, reimagining discipline and streamlining textbook acquisition.

Last year, I was told that late-night Val was impossible. I’ve already set up live music on the Val balcony. Think of what we can achieve this year. Let’s set the bar even higher. Vote James Hulsizer for Senate.

Sydney Ireland

This past year as a 2023 Senate representative, I was an active member of the Budgetary Committee and a member of the Covid Student Taskforce. In June, I, along with other senators, helped initiate @amherstforblm, which asked students to pledge to donate their student activities refund checks to organizations supporting the movement. I’m devoted to advocating on behalf of students, including concern related to disarming ACPD and making campus a place where students can feel safe and comfortable. Transparency between the administration and students related to issues surrounding the coronavirus has and will continue to be a priority to me.

Maira Owais

My name is Maira Owais, and I am one of your current class senators! If reelected this year, my main goals would be to bridge the gap that has formed between off-campus and on-campus students through virtual engagement and create safe programming for those of us who are on campus. Now more than ever, communication among students and response from the administration is crucial and I aim to help facilitate that. While this semester comes with unique challenges, AAS can and must evolve in its role of supporting the student body while also holding the administration accountable for its promises.

Melanie Schwimmer

I am Melanie Schwimmer, a proud Appletonian, Cohanian and American studies major from San Diego. In my roles as a Peer Advocate and ACVotes Representative, I ensure each member of our community is heard and supported, especially centering BIPOC and LGBTQ+ perspectives. As a Senator, I will build on this foundation working tirelessly to implement the #ReclaimAmherst plan. I will fight for increased transparency and student input surrounding all administrative and faculty decisions, particularly regarding Covid-19. I will foster an increased sense of community within our year, across years and between those on and off-campus. Thank you for your support.   

Henry Stiepleman

I have three priorities: Covid, anti-racism and the college’s connection to the surrounding area. As your representative, I’d set up an indoor dining option where students can sign up to eat meals together. I’d continue the work I do as Communications Officer for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, focusing on the #ReclaimAmherst campaign and holding the administration to their promises. Finally, I think the Amherst student body should have a stronger connection to western Massachusetts. I’d work with the college to further develop departmental requirements and internships in order to form consistent bonds with neighboring communities.

Sirus Wheaton

Since I started here, I am grateful and proud to have worked as a diversity intern for the Admission’s Office and on the #AmherstActs campaign, #IntegrateAmherst and #ReclaimAmherst campaigns. I’ve learned from my experience, we need to prioritize inclusivity in our community because the divisions amongst us keep us from being our best. We need more transparency. As sophomores, whether we are on campus in the spring is entirely up in the air. We should be informed about the current process and be regularly updated. I promise to do my best to make these happen as a senator.

Jalen Woodward

I’m from South Carolina, I’m a sophomore and prospective Black studies and LJST double major, and I’m running for AAS Senate. I’ve served as the treasurer for BSU, part of the Mock Trial team and  play club soccer. My past student government experiences combined with my solicitude, open-mindedness and determination make me a strong candidate. I aim to be an advocate for meaningful inter-group dialogue and for strengthening our community through this difficult time and also to be an exceptional and dependable spokesperson for all Amherst students. In sum, I stand for integrity, community and compassion.  

Yvette Kiptoo

This year has truly shown how much of the Amherst experience depends on the communities we build on campus. As a sophomore studying remotely this semester, I appreciate now more than ever the many brief interactions we get to have with our peers on campus each day. As Senator, I hope to reenvision the TYPO program as “Take Your Peers Out” to allow community building during our remote spring semester, use the rainy day fund to support first-generation low-income students and back initiatives such as the #ReclaimAmherst campaign to make sure we have a unified campus community to return to.

Declan Sung

My name is Declan Sung, and I am running for reelection to the Senate for one reason: I want to help make Amherst a better place. 2020 has presented us with unprecedented challenges and will certainly present us with more. We must come together as a community, as the Amherst community to face them. Our first priority this semester has to be safety; this must include focusing on mental wellbeing as well as physical. I am dedicated to making sure that the administration listens to the voices of its students.

Class of 2024

 Lorett Alcaron

My name is Lorett Alarcon and I am a FLI [First Generation, Low Income] first-year student. I believe that I would make an ideal Senate candidate because of the characteristics and changes I can bring forth. I am dedicated to listening to what the student population wants to see on campus, and would also like to connect remote students to students on campus. I want to bring more student resources this semester, so that Amherst students can live more comfortably amidst the current situation. I hope I can be elected to represent you, the student body, as a senator this year.

Angelo Fodero

Fellow mammoths, I have had the pleasure of talking with most of you either on campus or virtually, but for those who do not know me, I am Angelo Fodera, otherwise known as Alo. I knew that this was a special place the moment I stepped on campus, but I fear that the community I fell in love with is becoming socially-distant. In these trying times, we must band together, more so than ever, to reconstruct Amherst. When elected, I promise to do everything in my power to bring back the herd!

Dan Gonzalez-Kosasky

Hello Everyone! My name is Dan Gonzalez-Kosasky, and I am a first-year student from Rockville, Maryland. My goal is to use this position in the Senate to bring a bit more fun and normalcy to this academic year. I believe there is untapped potential to connect and enjoy this beautiful space without endangering the herd, and thus I will stop at nothing to make sure this year is as fun and rewarding as it can be for my classmates. Thank you for reading, and have a blessed day!

Obinna Okoli

My experience is varied, having served on my high school’s Council of Diversity & Inclusion. I met with students, administrators and the head of school to propose initiatives that promote inclusivity within classrooms, dorms and on the sports field. In addition, I co-founded and ran the first student-led conference for Black independent school students. I’m reliable, a good listener and always willing to have conservations that help us reimagine the ways we view each other. If elected senator, I will guarantee that all members of the community will have their needs represented.

Luca Romualdo

Who I am: 

• A student council vice president and four-term representative who overhauled the advising program, revised the code of conduct and organized numerous student events

• An organizer who ran a student conference on racial and economic issues 

What I’ll do: 

• Advocate for safe, sensible changes to coronavirus restrictions on indoor dining and small group gatherings

• Support progress on racial equity and the administration’s anti-racism plan 

I know what it takes to work with an administration to make real change. I know how to represent your interests and get the job done. I hope I can count on your support.

Transfer Students

Tomajin Morikawa

Back in late 2019, the AAS Senate amended the Constitution under a unanimous vote to create a 33rd seat dedicated for transfer students. As a result, transfer students will now no longer vote by class year but will instead vote for a transfer senator. This was a result of hard advocacy work by our previous transfer cohort who sought to mitigate the underrepresentation of transfer students. As the current President of the TSA [Transfer Students Association], I have sought to make the Amherst experience better for transfers and will continue these efforts in the student government at Amherst College if I am elected.