Gent Malushaga ’25 Elected AAS President

Malushaga won by a margin of around 80 votes in an election that was waged over email, on Fizz, and in the Val foyer. He ran on a platform of “Community. Transparency. Outreach.”

Gent Malushaga ’25 Elected AAS President
The elections will bring in a new AAS executive board, which also includes the vice president, treasurer, and judiciary council chair. Photo courtesy of Erin Williams ’26.

Gent Malushaga ’25 was elected as the next Amherst Association of Students (AAS) President last week, defeating his sole competitor, Shane Dillon ’26. Voting for the presidential election took place on Friday, April 12, and Malushaga was announced as the winner early Sunday morning. Malushaga will begin his term as president next fall.

Malushaga won by a vote of 319 to 242, in executive board elections that also saw Hedley Lawrence-Apfelbaum ’26 elected as vice president, Hannah Kim ’25 elected as treasurer, and Noah Turbes ’27 elected as judiciary council chair.

Malushaga’s victory comes after a week of fierce campaigning on campus between the two candidates, including a deluge of campaign posters, candidates campaigning in the foyer of Valentine dining hall, and debate on the social media platform Fizz.

Dillon and Malushaga outlined their campaign platforms in a mid-week speech night hosted by the AAS, at which the candidates delivered short speeches explaining their policy ideas and then took turns answering questions from the attending crowd.

Malushaga ran on the three-pronged platform of “Community. Transparency. Outreach.” Expanding on these keywords, he explained that he wanted to build student spirit by lobbying the college to reintroduce time groups to the housing process while transitioning towards more suite-style housing. Additionally, he explained that he wanted to publicize the meeting minutes for committees of the college, including the Board of Trustees, and strengthen the college community’s relationship with the town of Amherst.

Dillon, who ran on the campaign slogan “We Make Amherst, I Speak for You,” promised to act as the student body’s mouthpiece for policy change.

“I promise you that I will be a responsive and proactive student leader if elected president, and I will ensure that our senators are supported, which is one of the most important parts of the job,” Dillon declared.

The speech night, however, was sparsely attended by non-AAS members. Current AAS president Lori Alarcon ’24 conceded that the AAS election results are about  “who you know.”

“It’s about getting the students who aren’t already your friends. How are you going to get them to vote?” Alarcon said. “It comes down to which candidates did the best job knowing freshmen because we have a junior and a sophomore running, so you see where their classes are going to vote, but freshmen, that’s where it really is,” she added.

In order to appeal to as many students as possible, both Dillon and Malushaga embarked on social outreach strategies. Dillon created an email list to send his campaign message by “literally coming up with a list of everybody I could possibly think of that I know or have connected with in some way,” he said.

Malushaga also created his own email list by “digging through old GroupMes, Moodle pages, and Athletics rosters,” he said.

While both candidates attempted to campaign in person by “tabling” at Val and the Keefe campus center, they explained they felt stymied by a lack of personal student engagement.

“I knew that, no matter how hard I tried to work in person, I’m just not going to see a lot of people on campus for various reasons,” Malushaga said.

Dillon was in agreement, explaining that he found in-person engagement on campus to be rare.  

“I try to be as responsive and visible as possible,” Dillon said. Yet, “I think people were definitely engaged more through Fizz, and I wish it was more of a person-by-person basis because I try to make myself as available as possible,” Dillon said.

Despite the dueling nature of the election, both candidates maintained an amicable posture toward each other. When asked during the Speech Night to award their opponent a compliment, Dillon had a quick reply.

“You know how to pull off a suit, and I also don’t think I’ve ever met anyone more passionate about the topics you bring up in Senate,” he said.

Malushaga, at the time uncertain about his electoral fate, affirmed that he was at peace with both potential election outcomes but eager to make a difference in the Amherst community.

“Regardless of whether or not I’m elected, I’m very committed to the platform I’ve laid out,” he said. “I’m just very excited to get to work and to make good on the promises I made on the campaign trail.”