Program Board, the Little Red Schoolhouse and Other Housecleaning

This will be a somewhat rambling piece about what was discussed at Monday’s AAS meeting, but if there is one thing to take out of the column it is this: the AAS has no intimate relationship with Program Board and should not be held responsible for the Spring Concert fiasco. The email that Program Board sent out to the student body about their failure to reach an agreement with an artist for Spring Concert was the first we had heard of it. Our own representative to the Program Board (Peter Crane ’15), was not updated about the progress of negotiations, nor was anyone else.

This leaves us — the AAS — in the awkward position of both needing to make sense of what happened and trying to resolve the disaster. As a starting point, we are asking the members of Program Board come in next Monday to discuss the issue. Some of the senior members of the AAS were particularly adamant that we should hold the Program Board accountable for the lack of Spring Concert, and force them to be completely transparent about their operations. It was noted by George Tepe ’14 that the Program Board has failed to put up any of their meeting minutes online, so the failure to organize the concert reflected a “general disorganization” in the group. Other members were frustrated with the tone and language in the Program Board email. Of particular issue was the hopeless sentiment in lines like, “the popularity of Spring Concert has declined rapidly in the past several years.” We want to know why, and what we can do to improve Spring Concert in the future. Second, we want to work with Program Board to use the $65,000 we have available in the best possible way. One possibility is changing the structure of Spring Concert into something more akin to what Carleton College does. Carleton does their Spring Concert outdoors, and it is generally a whole day affair with several student groups playing in the afternoon, followed by cheaper local bands in the evening. In some sense, the event at Carleton is a hybrid of our Spring Carnival and Spring Concert — and it seems to work. This is something I’m sure will be brought up next week when we meet with Program Board.

In other news, did you know that the Little Red Schoolhouse — that dainty building surrounded by the Social Quad — has been around since the 1930s? This was news to me, and (I’m confident) to everyone else in the AAS, but relevant to the argument put forward by a speaker that came in Monday. With the construction of the new science center slated to begin next year, the College has instructed administrators at the Schoolhouse (yes, preschoolers still use the building), that they will have to make new employment plans by the end of this year. The schoolhouse will be in the way of the construction and will be removed some way or another.

One woman, who has sent her own children through the Schoolhouse, hopes that the student body can get behind an effort to preserve and relocate the building. Because the building is so old and rich with history, it could qualify as a historical monument, which would allow the College to move it using local taxpayer money. This would be cheaper than simply destroying the building. Students interested in taking on this effort are encouraged to speak to Christina Won ’15, Kyra Ellis-Moore ’15 or Maia Mares ’14.

Finally, we talked food. AAS President Romen Borsellino ’12 announced that he would move forward with plans to acquire a late night dining option on campus, like our peer institutions. We’ll start by hosting an open discussion about Val within the next few weeks, so stay tuned. And JJ Hoffstein ’14 came by to talk about the new Val twitter feed that will give updates on menus and traffic (sadly it won’t be updated by the HiHi lady). Follow @AmherstDining…but only once your following @AAS_Senate. #ShamelessSelfPromotion.