The college reinstated the program allowing students to see movies at Amherst Cinema for free as of Oct. 6 after canceling it the spring of 2023 due to budget cuts. Students will have access to free tickets daily after 7 p.m.
The program was funded by the Amherst Association of Students (AAS) until last spring, when they could no longer afford the program. The Office of Student Activities (now Student Engagement and Leadership) subsequently took over Amherst Cinema funding responsibilities, until they determined that they could no longer afford the program and opted to discontinue it.
Sophie Durbin ’25, president of Amherst College Film Society, led the efforts to reinstate the program and has been in “nonstop” talks with various administrative offices on campus about the issue since the summer.
“I think people are really happy that it’s back. I know people who used to go every single day,” Durbin said.
A period of staff turnover in the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership made it difficult to manage the climbing price of the program due to increased use. Once Director for Student Engagement and Leadership Rachel Kremer was hired this summer, she was tasked with finding a sustainable model that would allow Student Affairs to continue to fund the tickets.
Angie Tissi-Gassoway, chief student affairs officer and dean of students, said that continuing the program aligned well with the college’s goal of building connections with the off-campus local community.
Although in recent years, free tickets have been available 24 hours a day, free tickets will now only be available after 7 p.m.
While funding free tickets 24 hours a day was feasible during the initial pandemic lockdown due to decreased use of the resource, sustaining this model after the pandemic became financially unsustainable. Whereas the program previously cost roughly $1,500 per month, the use of free tickets increased so that the bill from Amherst Cinema climbed to between $4,000 and $5,000 per month.
Student Affairs intends to continue the program, but increased time constraints may be considered later if the program dramatically exceeds its allotted budget of $1,500 per month.
“I use it all the time,” Caden Stockwell ’25 said. “I was really, really sad when they got rid of it. And I kind of thought that we weren’t going to be able to get it back at all, so I was really excited when we did, although I was hoping we would get the full 24/7.”
“This is more than just entertainment. It’s not the type of movie theater that shows blockbuster movies. They only really show independent films,” Durbin said. “It’s really an educational resource.”
Editor’s Note: Durbin is an assistant Arts & Living editor for The Student.