OPINION

If I May: The Final Farewell

By Jake May '19 || Issue 148-22

Dear reader,
This will be my final column for The Amherst Student. Since sophomore year, I have written an article nearly every week and I could not be more thankful to the editors for giving me the opportunity to write for this paper. It has been a privilege to be published in this fantastic newspaper. Furthermore, my column has given me an opportunity to grow as a writer, an opportunity that I have of course squandered, instead choosing to write listicles whenever I can.


In that vein, for my final column, I had planned on writing a “series” (you could call it a list) of corrections for bad takes I have had in the past, such as the thought that the Science Center was going to be “awful” (it is not) and that “Saturday Night Live” was “very funny” (it is not). However, in light of recent events at Amherst, I decided I wanted to take one last opportunity to comment on these issues, before they all become irrelevant to me (aka I won’t be allowed to write anymore because, according to the editors, I will have “graduated” and it would be “inappropriate to keep the column.”) So, without further ado, my final thoughts on:


The AAS E-board Election
Let me try and get this straight. There was a standard Association of Amherst Students (AAS) election, which was then voided because of a complaint about the “Unity” ticket’s spending, which led to an AAS meeting, which led to a Judiciary Council (JC) meeting, which led to a decision by the JC that disqualified and barred the “Unity” ticket from running. Then, after that decision, a new set of elections was announced, so now new people could run. Then, the entire sophomore class (it seemed) announced their intention to run for various executive board positions. Or, wait, did they announce that anyone could run even before the JC decision? Whatever.


Anyway, so then everyone was in the race, and we had new elections. Hooray! Wait, hold on. There was a run-off for president. Let’s just do this run-off and then we’ll know who the presiden — sorry? A referendum? Who? Right, the “Unity” ticket. So now we have to vote to overturn the JC decision about the “Unity” ticket. My question is: if it had been overturned, would we have had yet another set of new elections? That would be truly unbelievable. Oh, also there is a run-off for vice-president and JC chair as well.


This entire saga is truly one of the silliest things I have witnessed at Amherst. I say this, of course, with reverence to the AAS. I honestly think that students should care more about who they choose as AAS representatives. But simply, the amount of back and forth that has occurred is downright comical. Frankly, I am happy the referendum did not pass, mostly because this whole thing needs to end. I hope that candidates will be more careful about campaigning (and spending), so that we won’t find ourselves in a situation like this again.


The Jeff Sessions Visit
This event is truly one of the more disappointing things that has happened while I’ve been at Amherst. Jeff Sessions may be the former (disgraced) attorney general of the United States. However, Jeff Sessions has also built his entire career on racism, homophobia and general bigotry. When I spoke on the phone with my father, I bemoaned the fact that the college was allowing him to visit. My dad pushed back on this, suggesting that since Sessions was invited by a student group, it would be difficult for Amherst to justify not allowing him to speak. This is a fair point. I do not want to see the college suppressing free speech.


That being said, what good is done by having Sessions speak here? This is the same man who rescinded Title IX guidances that protected transgender students, defended Trump’s “Muslim ban” in court, instructed prosecutors to seek the toughest charges and sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, encouraged Ohio voter suppression — I could literally go on for pages detailing all of the incredibly heinous things that Sessions has done, all of which are directly at odds with what I thought this college stood for. Given all of this, why on Earth would I want to listen to this man speak? Considering the fact that he worked tirelessly to deny many of my friends, peers and professors their civil rights, what possible wisdom, knowledge or worthwhile sentence could he possibly utter?


If a student group wishes to invite a speaker, fine. In theory, I’m all for a civil exchange of ideas on a college campus. I wish, though, that those who invited someone like Jeff Sessions would consider exactly what good would come of a visit like this. Is Jeff Sessions actually worth Amherst’s time? In my opinion, absolutely not. I’m embarrassed that he is going to be on the same campus as so many brilliant students, professors and staff, all of whom deserve better than Jeff Sessions.


A Final Note
This is an incredibly odd time of my life, as I’m sure is the case for most seniors. So much of what seemed so permanent — our routine, who we see on a daily basis, where we live — is now becoming temporary, soon to vanish forever. One of these things, for me, was writing this column. While it was stressful to produce an article every week, it was quite therapeutic. Writing about my thoughts on the politics or television or campus issues required me to reckon with these issues, and the writing process helped me grow. I am nervous to move on, but I know I’m better prepared for whatever comes next because of my time writing for The Student.


I want to take this opportunity to again thank each and every one of my editors over the years, and I also want to take this opportunity to apologize for all the times I sent in this column at the very last moment possible. I’d also like to recognize Diane Lee ’19, my first editor, who offered me the column in the first place (and also came up with the name). Thank you, Diane, for encouraging my writing and for putting up with my nonsense. And finally, thank you to my readers over the years. Considering I’m relatively dumb and not very smart, the fact that you’d take the time to read my work means a great deal (seriously). Okay, now it’s time to think of the final sentence ever for If I May. I should end with an important sentiment, some final wisdom to impart on my readers. Alright, here goes nothing:


Phish is the greatest band of all time.