From the Red Room: Oct. 18 AAS Meeting Updates

The Association of Amherst Students (AAS) discussed a new program called Amherst Superfan, their internal communication practices, and an upcoming hearing with the Judiciary Council in their most recent meeting on Oct. 18.

On Monday, Oct. 18, the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) held its fourth weekly meeting of the Fall 2021 semester. Senators discussed a new program called Amherst Superfan, approved the Budgetary Committee’s recommendations, and discussed their internal communication practices as well as an upcoming hearing with the Judiciary Council.

The meeting began with a discussion about Amherst Superfan, a project proposed by Bryce Lauletta ’22. SuperFan is an app wherein schools can post the campus-wide events they are hosting and students can win prizes for participating in these events. The goal of SuperFan is to increase student participation in campus events and foster more school spirit. Lauletta’s proposal, which was backed by the Athletic Department and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, requested funding for one year of the program. The Senate approved Lauletta’s request of $2,250 and established an unofficial committee dedicated to customizing SuperFan for Amherst’s campus. The committee comprises Dania Hallak ’24, Sirus Wheaton ’23, Mia Griffin ’24, Hannah Kim ’25, Min Ji Kim ’25, Yvette Kiptoo ’23, Michael Bai ’25, Angelina Han ’22, Jae Yun Ham ’22, Fareeda Adejumo ’23, Maira Owais ’23 and Gent Malushaga ’25.

Next, all of the requests of the Budgetary Committee (BC) led by Ham, were approved by the Senate. The requests totaled approximately $27,000. Some of the organizations that made funding requests include Debate Society, Amherst Mixed Martial Arts, Amherst Political Union, Bioethics Society, WAMH and the Asian Students Association. The Senate also approved Ham’s request to move around $500 from the Senate’s discretionary fund to the BC’s account to buy meals for its members.

The Senate then conducted a discussion regarding its communication practices, during which members reevaluated the ways that senators communicate with one another, the student body and the administration. Some members suggested creating an email committee that would be primarily in charge of crafting statements sent out to the campus at large. There was also a conversation about the need to be more active on the Senate’s social media pages in imparting information to students.

Additionally, senators spoke about the upcoming Judiciary Council hearing; the hearing is on a complaint filed by a group of anonymous students against the Senate regarding a letter of solidarity it sent out in May of 2021. The letter condemned the actions of the Israeli government and expressed support for Palestine in light of the desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the forced evictions in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. A chosen committee of senators will describe how the solidarity email aligns with the Constitution and the responsibilities of the Senate. Should the Judiciary Council rule against the Senate, their ability to send out communications of this kind in the future may be restricted.

The meeting concluded with “on-campus check-ins” or updates on the committees and the progress on their respective Senate projects. Jalen Woodard ’23 mentioned a series of events being hosted by the Center for Restorative Practices, titled “Exploring Policing and Community Safety at Amherst: Restorative Circle.” These meetings, which are being held at least once a week throughout October and November, have had low student turnout, so Woodard asked the Senate to publicize this event more in hopes of getting increased student participation.

The Dining Committee also provided updates about Valentine Dining Hall and its services, noting student requests to reinstate Late Night dining and add more allergen-friendly, accessible options.

The next AAS meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 25, 2021.