On Monday, March 28, the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) met for the seventh time this semester. The meeting was held in the Red Room, with several senators joining over Zoom. The meeting’s agenda included funding requests, interest requests, officer reports, and an impromptu motion to amend AAS bylaws.
Once attendance had been taken and the previous meeting’s minutes were approved, the Senate reviewed the Budgetary Committee’s (BC) discretionary funding recommendations and Senate project funding requests. The largest requests came from the Middle Eastern North African Association, Model United Nations, and the Anime Club. The BC recommendations totaled $15,970.30.
In atypical fashion, Cal Gelernt ’24 made a last-minute funding request for the Transportation Committee. The committee asked for $283 to refund four students who had purchased bus tickets to Boston after erroneously believing they had reserved spots on AAS-sponsored shuttles, as the confusion was the result of a mistake on behalf of the Transportation Committee. After discussion, the Senate voted to approve the request.
The Senate also reviewed two funding requests for Senate projects. Sophie Sweeney ’23 requested $3,000 to facilitate building a garden on campus. As part of her effort to revive the college’s bike share program, Gavi Forman ’22 requested $6,450 to pay for seven new bikes, maintenance on eight existing bikes, and 15 helmets. The motion to approve both the BC recommendations — excluding the transportation funding, which was approved in a separate vote — and the Senate project requests was passed unanimously.
Two AAS members then presented a pair of interest requests. Vice-President Basma Azzamok ’22 announced a plan to request a meeting with Chief of Police John Carter to discuss campus safety concerns, including the recent conversion of several Amherst College Police Department cars from marked to unmarked. Several senators expressed interest in participating in that meeting. Lori Alarcon ’24 relayed her plan to establish an AAS committee dedicated to supporting undocumented and non-citizen students. After discussion, a number of senators expressed interest in sitting on the committee.
Afterward, the AAS officers provided their weekly reports. Azzamok relayed that, as a result of their biweekly meeting, Dean of Students Liz Agosto will be hosting a town hall on the topic of loosening masking requirements.
Secretary Lucas Romualdo ’24 brought up the possibility of buying an additional AAS van to meet student demand, particularly given the high frequency of repairs that make the two existing vans impossible to use. He also advocated for the hiring of an additional van clerk to hold accountable students who damage the vans. After some discussion, an informal vote revealed support for hiring another van clerk. An amendment to the AAS bylaws, which was necessary to facilitate the hiring, was introduced and passed by the Senate.
Lastly, President Angelina Han ’22 reported on her exchange with Agosto regarding the Housing Selection Process for the 2022-2023 school year. Han was told that the room group system was only utilized due to Covid, and that the implementation of a process based on selection numbers was a reversion to pre-Covid practices. Some senators remarked that the pre-Covid housing process relied on averaged selection numbers among a group — rather than forcing students to defer to the lowest selection number among their desired housing group — which mitigated the possibility of conflicts among friends. Han agreed to bring up the concern with Agosto via email.
The next AAS meeting will take place on Monday, April 4.