From the Red Room: Feb. 21 AAS Meeting Updates

In their third meeting of the semester on Feb. 21, the AAS inducted new senators, discussed budgetary requests, and ratified a new amendment removing the requirement to collect petition signatures before running.

On Monday, Feb. 21, the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) met for the third time of the spring semester. Unlike the previous week’s meeting, which was held in the Red Room with isolating senators joining over Zoom, this meeting was conducted entirely over Zoom due to “unforeseen circumstances.” The meeting agenda included the induction of new senators, Budgetary Committee (BC) funding recommendations, committee elections, an amendment to the AAS constitution, a proposed change to the bylaws, officer reports, and updates on Senate projects and committees.

After attendance was taken, the senators elected in the Feb. 18 special elections were inducted into the AAS. In the absence of the Judiciary Chair, who is studying abroad this semester, Judiciary Council (JC) member Lori Alarcon ’24 led the induction ceremony, wherein Sam Beach ’22, Chloe Wohlgemuth ’22, Jessica Yu ’22, Chloe Metz ’23, Gillian Quinto ’23, Sam Robin ’23, and Sophie Sweeney ’23 recited the Senate oath in unison, and officially became AAS senators.

Treasurer Jae Yun Ham ’22 then relayed the BC discretionary funding recommendations. The largest requests came from the Muslim Students Association, Design House, and the Arts Committee. After some discussion, senators unanimously approved the BC-recommended total of $25,383.14.

Elections were held for open positions on two committees: one seat was open on the College Council for a member of the Class of 2023, and one seat was open on the Faculty Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid (FCAFA) for any class year. Sirus Wheaton ’23, as the only nominee, won the position on the College Council. Mia Griffin ’24, Isaiah Doble ’25, Dania Hallak ’24, and Wohlgemuth were nominated for the FCAFA opening, with Griffin winning the vote and position.

Cole Graber-Mitchell ’22 presented an amendment to the AAS constitution, which would remove the requirement that Senate candidates collect petition signatures in order to run. A motion to vote on the amendment was introduced, and it passed unanimously, with an email sent to students explaining the change on Feb. 22.

Graber-Mitchell also presented a potential change to the AAS bylaws. The proposal outlined a plan to pay certain elected student officials — including senators, executive board members, and some at-large members of the JC and BC. Graber-Mitchell noted that the proposed alteration could boost civic participation in AAS elections. If enacted, the change would not take effect until next term and would set a limit on the number of hours a week that can be counted for payment. Numerous senators provided feedback on the proposal, and it was not brought for a vote.

Officers then provided their weekly reports. Vice-President Basma Azzamok ’22 solicited topics for the officers’ first biweekly meeting with Dean of Students and Interim Chief Student Affairs Officer Liz Agosto on Thursday, Feb. 24. Hallak and Kya Rincon ’22 suggested that the officers both bring up the lack of academic accommodations for those in Covid isolation.

Several senators also provided updates on their Senate projects. Wheaton sought advice on his efforts to provide access to free hygiene products and sustainable detergent in residence halls, since the college had elected not to fund his request for $28,000. Graber-Mitchell suggested that the AAS fund the sum through the Student Life Fund. Regarding her attempts to create a major fair, Hannah Kim ’25 asked about the permissibility of providing a cash incentive to students willing to speak about their major at the fair. Although unsure about the prospect of cash incentives, senators agreed that Kim could reach out to passionate students through personal connections and the Daily Mammoth.

Two committees provided updates as well. On behalf of the Transportation Committee, Jackson Lee ’24 reported that the committee will meet this week to discuss Spring Break shuttles. Hallak and Griffin, as members of the Sexual Assault Task Force, announced their plan to reach out to the @amherstshareyourstory Instagram account for input on how to best serve students affected by sexual misconduct.

The next AAS meeting will take place on Monday, Feb. 28.