From the Red Room: Dec. 6 AAS Meeting Updates

The AAS held its final meeting of the fall semester on Monday, Dec. 6. Senators discussed Budgetary Committee (BC) funding recommendations, upcoming Senate projects, and student housing during J-Term.

On Monday, Dec. 6, the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) held its final meeting of the fall semester. Senators discussed Budgetary Committee (BC) funding recommendations, upcoming Senate projects, and student housing during January Term (J-Term).

The meeting began with the discussion and approval of the BC’s funding recommendations, led by Treasurer Jae Yun Ham ’22. Among the groups requesting funds were the Amherst Video Games club, the Amherst Ski Club, the Amherst Beauty Club, and the Amherst Labor Alliance. All funding requests were approved.

Additional requests for funding were then made for upcoming Senate projects. Shreya Mathew ’25 requested $1,500 to provide free coffee and tea for students in Frost Library and the Science Center during Reading and Finals week. Sirus Wheaton ’23 then requested $8,125 for detergent and toothpaste for students in need. Both requests were approved.

Senators also discussed the possibility of installing refill stations in first-year laundry rooms and the Keefe Campus Center. Wheaton mentioned that he had sent proposals to the facilities with the hope that at least one station will be installed for the spring semester.

The discussion then shifted to a proposal to purchase sweatshirts for AAS members. Some senators expressed concern about the proposal, pointing out that it could further divide the Senate from the rest of the student body, while others saw it as a means to unite AAS members and draw interest towards the group. Suggestions were then made to purchase extra sweatshirts to give away at AAS-sanctioned events in an effort to encourage student engagement. The adjusted motion was approved with a 55 percent majority.

The AAS’s cumulative discretionary spending for the fall semester totaled $200,102.

Following the discussion of discretionary spending, Senators approved spring budgets for a range of student affinity and religious organizations, with costs totaling $262,000. The AAS will end the spring semester with approximately $650,000 in hand.

Next, President Angelina Han ’22 gave an officer report on the state of student housing. Han stated that J-Term housing has adequate capacity for international students and students with extenuating circumstances, though safety and logistical concerns due to the pandemic have complicated the situation. Han mentioned that the college is hesitant to revert to pre-Covid policies for housing over Winter Recess, and will still operate under pandemic-adjusted protocols.

Senators then expressed concern regarding the administration’s lack of transparency with students as it makes important housing policy decisions. They further questioned why a wide range of classes is being offered during the J-Term period, given that housing protocols have caused bottlenecks in housing availability.

In the final minutes of the meeting, a follow-up to an email sent out by Housing Operations on Dec. 6 providing further information regarding Winter Recess and J-Term was proposed. J-Term is currently operating as a pilot program, and will not be held during Winter Recess in the 2022-2023 school year.

The AAS will resume its weekly meetings during the Spring 2022 semester.