On Monday, April 4, the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) met for the eighth time this semester. The meeting was held in the Red Room, with several senators joining over Zoom. The meeting’s agenda included a town hall with Dean of Students and Chief of Student Affairs Liz Agosto, a public comment regarding the Presidential Search Committee (PSC), and a bylaw amendment to pay future AAS members.
Once attendance was taken, Agosto’s Q&A-style town hall began, with senators asking questions about both the recent loosening of Covid protocols and Agosto’s new promotion from interim to permanent chief of student affairs. Agosto affirmed that the current set of Covid protocols is expected to stay in place for the remainder of the semester, although further loosening may be possible in the fall. She also explained that the decision to require masking in classrooms was rooted in the fact that, unlike events or other gatherings, students cannot choose to not attend class. Regarding her promotion, Agosto said that while her work itself has changed little, not hiring an additional person to hold the role frees up money for other hires and resources.
When the floor was opened for public comment, Charlie Sutherby ’23E asked the AAS to sign a letter — which had been shared with senators ahead of time — addressed to the PSC. The letter urges the PSC to “select a candidate who will make social impact a College-wide priority.” Sutherby expressed that the AAS’ support of the letter would legitimize the initiative as reflecting the sentiment of the student body. After asking Sutherby several clarifying questions, the Senate introduced and passed a motion to put the AAS’ signature on the letter.
After then approving the minutes from the previous meeting, the Senate reviewed the Budgetary Committee (BC) discretionary funding recommendations and Senate fund requests. Secretary Lucas Romualdo ’24, Vice-President Basma Azzamok ’22, Gent Malushaga ’25, and Mia Griffin ’24 each made Senate Fund requests for a total of $17,910. The BC recommendations, which were presented by Treasurer Jae Yun Ham ’22, summed to $20,348.19. After discussion, both figures were simultaneously approved by the Senate.
Cole Graber-Mitchell ’22 presented the updated version of his proposed amendment to the AAS bylaws. Only taking effect after the Spring 2022 elections, the amendment institutes a wage of $15 an hour for all senators, executive board members, and at-large members on the BC and the Judiciary Committee. Only hours worked at mandatory, minuted meetings are eligible for compensation, and the total amount paid to each official is capped at $90 — or six paid hours — a week.
The proposal had initially had the cap set at four paid hours a week, but several senators worried that Senate duties could require one to exceed the cap. After discussion, an informal poll revealed overwhelming support for six hours. The cap was then increased to six hours in the proposal.
Some senators praised the proposed amendment. Malushaga remarked that it would legitimize the Senate, and that he was not concerned about potential abuses given the restrictions in place. Others, however, expressed concern. Gavi Forman ’22 worried that not enough engagement had been had with the student body on the topic, noting that other valuable student groups do not get paid.
Before the Senate moved to a vote, Graber-Mitchell made final remarks on the proposal. He suggested the amendment could make the AAS more professional, could make elections more competitive, and would reward AAS officials for their labor. A motion to vote on the amendment was introduced and passed, although some senators voted “no” or abstained.
The Senate then reviewed a proposal for a new AAS committee — The Amherst Dreamer Committee/Immigrant Alliance — which was presented by Lori Alarcon ’24. The proposed committee, which Alarcon had described at the previous week’s meeting, provides support for students without American citizenship at the college. Senators expressed support, and a vote to establish the committee passed handily.
Afterward, officers provided their weekly reports. Azzamok announced an upcoming meeting about campus safety with Chief of Police John Carter and Agosto to be held on April 7 at 1 p.m. Azzamok also remarked that the State of the College address will be held next Monday, April 11, and feature addresses to the college from Amherst President Biddy Martin and AAS President Angelina Han ’22. Romualdo reminded senators that AAS Executive Board elections will take place on Thursday, April 7.
The next AAS meeting will be held on Monday, April 11.