From the Red Room: May 9 AAS Meeting Updates

On Monday, May 9, the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) held their 13th and final meeting of the semester. They discussed Workday Student, campus safety, and committee elections.

On Monday, May 9, the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) held their 13th and final meeting of the semester. The meeting was held in the Red Room, with some attendees joining over Zoom. Its agenda included a presentation about Workday Student, a town hall on campus safety, and committee elections.

Once attendance had been taken, Sarah Barr, advisor to the provost on campus initiatives, delivered a presentation to the AAS on the new Workday Student system, which will replace AC Data next semester. She explained the system’s features and fielded questions from senators. Barr said that current students will be onboarded to the system on June 14.

Afterward, the AAS hosted a town hall regarding campus safety. Questions were fielded by Chief Student Affairs Officer and Dean of Students Liz Agosto, Chief of Police John Carter, and three members of the original Community Safety Advisory Committee (CSAC) — Associate Professor of Russian Michael Kunichika, Sofia Guerra ’22, and Maya Foster ’23.

Treasurer Dania Hallak ’24 pointed to a disconnect between the student body and the Amherst College Police Department (ACPD), and asked whether there were plans to bridge this gap. Carter responded that the ACPD is examining ways to connect more effectively with students, but said that the department needs student input on how to do so.

Several senators raised concerns about the impromptu appearance of Moose, the ACPD comfort dog, and his handler at student events, noting that the appearance of an uniformed, armed officer can be alarming to some. Carter said that the officer responsible for Moose is interested in having dialogue with students and that the dog’s presence can reduce stress. He added that ACPD is open to student feedback on the issue, and will consider ways to avoid making people uncomfortable.

Mollie Hartenstein ’23 asked about the role of the new CSAC, which was announced in an April 18 letter from President Biddy Martin. Agosto explained that the new committee is intended to advise the administration on how to better serve the community as a whole with regard to safety. Guerra added that the committee needs to continue to reassess the role of ACPD and identify shortcomings.

After the previous week’s minutes were approved, Hallak presented the Budgetary Committee (BC) discretionary funding recommendations to the Senate. The largest requests came from the Outing Club, The Student, and the South Asian Students Association. Hallak also presented the AAS general budget for the 2022-2023 academic year. The Senate unanimously approved the BC-recommended total of $13,141.11 and the general budget.

Officers then delivered their weekly reports. Vice-President Jaden Richards ’25 described a meeting he and President Sirus Wheaton ’23 had with Agosto and a member of the college’s legal counsel about the prospect of paying AAS officials. Richards and Wheaton were reportedly told that the bylaw that established wages for officials was not viable due to legal complications. A stipend was proposed as a potential alternative.

Wheaton described a possible system under which officials would be paid a baseline stipend of $600 a semester, with additional compensation — $100, $200, or $300 — granted according to which committees an official is on.

The Senate then held committee elections. Although the election for the Judiciary Council was held at last week’s meeting, the positions were finalized this week due to an error in the election procedure. The two open seats were won by Hartenstein and Mia Griffin ’24E.

The Elections Committee had five open seats. They were won by Fareeda Adejumo ’23, Gillian Quinto ’23, Chloe Metz ’23, Hannah Kim ’25, and Kate Redmond ’23.

The Appointments Board, which recommends students to the Senate for at-large committee positions, had six open seats. They were won by Henry Pallesen ’25, Isaiah Doble ’25, Isabelle Malmqvist ’25, Kim, and Zane Khiry ’25.

The Transportation Committee, which organizes airport shuttle services for students, had five open seats. Four of these seats were filled by Pallesen, Taha Ahmed ’24, Rachel Skoler ’25, and Adejumo, while the final spot will remain open until the fall.

At this point, with the meeting approaching the three-hour mark, senators discussed whether the remaining committees with open spots could wait until the fall to be filled. They agreed that the Orientation and First-Year Life Committee, which organizes programming for first-years, needed its seats filled, but the other committees could wait. The three open seats were filled by Skoler, Leandra Depina ’24, and Kim.

The meeting then adjourned.