I think that the most formative experience I’ve had so far as an international student was my time on AAS senate. In Cairo, there’s barely any form of student government present in school systems. For most schools in my hometown there’s none at all. There’s no form of student representation to the administration. However, at Amherst College, it’s different. Our student government is reflective of our diverse student body. Most senators push forward with their senate projects that aim to enhance student life at Amherst. Yet we tend to forget that. For most people, the AAS is an amorphous entity far removed from daily student life, but the senate is representative of the school. This year we’ve had one of the most competitive elections. This means that more people have run for senate and want to change things. However, even with that increased diversity
I find myself coming away from most senate meetings dissatisfied. I think senate ultimately should facilitate student life rather than direct it. We should provide each club with the tools to succeed. That should be our ultimate goal. From that keystone, I think everything else should be built. Whether that means spending more time reviewing budgets or focusing on other things remains to be decided. Currently, our senate meetings revolve around budgetary debates, and the uproars over JC rulings. Personally I don’t think our meetings should be centered on things we aren’t particularly excited about (namely budgets). On the other hand, the budget debates that we have are crucial. We make sure that all our funding fits within constitutional guidelines and that the events we fund are open and accessible to everyone in the student body. I write this to clarify the seemingly petty debates the AAS minutes transcribe.
We as a senate have been trying to move out of budgets taking most of our meeting to things that we as senators have been excited about. And again we have to deal with the balancing act of making sure our funding is fair and accountable. Your senators aren’t nameless, faceless people who don’t care about the student body. We weigh our decisions heavily and deliberate before we come to a vote. A lot of the time, we leave frustrated and think about what we could have done better or whether we could have said something a little more eloquently. The frustration that comes from that is a natural result from the majority voting process we have in senate. I know that there’s a huge amount of dissatisfaction with the AAS on whether we actually do serve a purpose. If the student body finds that student government fills a meaningless role within the sphere of our college then the AAS will inevitably dissolve. Or perhaps we get more senators who are able to take up the torch from where we currently stand. Our system like most, is flawed and imperfect; yet, we take the time to scrutinize the AAS’ rulings and the stances it takes. I hope that we continue to hold ourselves and the AAS accountable for what we stand for and to make sure it evolves into the best representation of the student body’s needs. Ultimately, these are my reflections on my time as senator and international student and they are in no way unanimously held by the AAS.