On Monday, Oct. 4, the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) held its third weekly meeting since the newly elected senators took their seats. Senators discussed Student Advisory Committees, the Budgetary Committee and the role that the Senate has in responding to incidents that occur across the Five College system.
The AAS meeting kicked off with selections for the Student Advisory Committee for the new student center and dining commons. Students on the committee will be charged with developing the role of the new student center in construction. Five Senators — Gent Malushaga ’25, Anna Penner ’24, Mia Griffin ’24, Sirus Wheaton ’23 and Gavi Forman ’22 — were chosen to serve on the committee. The remaining five members will be chosen from the campus community at large.
The recommendations of the Budgetary Committee, led by Treasurer Jae Yun Ham ’22, were also highlighted at the meeting. Numerous student organizations, including the Bioethics Society, Club Sailing, Mock Trial, Women in Finance and The Student, were awarded funding for their various events and activities. In total, 29 requests were made which amounted to $25,000.
The majority of the meeting was dedicated to a discussion regarding the series of racist emails that were recently sent to Black student organizations at UMass Amherst. Multiple senators expressed that they had wanted to release a statement of solidarity to Black students at the college and highlight the perceived inaction of the Amherst administration in the aftermath of the incident.
However, the proposed response, written by Wheaton and Griffin, was withheld after other members of the Senate took issue with the email’s verbiage and particular statements, specifically pertaining to the implied responsibility that Amherst College has for the wellbeing of Black students in the Five College system. Some Senators believed the college is not responsible for Black students who do not attend the college, while others claimed that as the “oldest and richest” institution in the Five College system, Amherst College has a responsibility to ensure a welcoming and inclusive environment for all Five College students.
Discussions about the email prompted an off-shoot conversation about the role that the Senate has had in addressing controversial incidents that occur at the college, both on and off campus. “We’re student senators … we’re here to support and represent the student body,” asserted Kya Rincon ’22. “We need to do better and organize better when it comes to things that actually harm students.”
The meeting wrapped up with five new committee appointments: Hannah Kim ’25 was appointed to represent Amherst in the Five College Student Coordinating Board, which is responsible for initiating support and cooperation between the Five Colleges, as well as promoting communication and interaction between them. Taha Ahmad ’24 and Josh Kim ’25 were appointed to serve on the Library Committee, which discusses and recommends policies surrounding the library’s collections and services.
Finally, Rincon and Malushaga were chosen to serve on the Title IX Committee, which collects and reviews information regarding the college’s sexual misconduct policies and their implementation.
The AAS will not meet next Monday, Oct. 11, in observance of Fall Break.