Voice Of The Senate

The year of 2012 has afforded the AAS seven productive meetings so far. Since late January, Val started using a Twitter account. @AmherstDining has kept us up to date on the meal schedule with tweets and pictures since Jan. 22. Twelve lucky students got to eat dinner with President Biddy thanks to a raffle, and Val has hosted six separate World Cuisine events, including an American Tour sampling food from the East Coast, South, Midwest and West Coast, along with a thoroughly Fat Tuesday lunch and dinner menu for Mardi Gras and a delectable Argentine dinner.

We’ve provided funding for trips, talks and events to numerous student groups including the Black Student Union, the Amherst College Christian Fellowship, the Council of Amherst Publications, the Amherst Economic Forum, the Peer Advocates, the Amherst Equestrian Club, Pride Alliance, College Connect, Amherst College Mock Trial, Model UN, Ultimate Frisbee, the African & Caribbean Students Association, Hillel, Amherst Dance, Amherst Fencing Club, Program Board, the International Student Association, WAMH, the Debate Team, Habitat for Humanity, the Amherst Feminist Alliance, the Senior Ball Committee, Women’s Rugby, the Amherst College Military Support Corps, Globe Med and many, many more.
We’ve launched a pilot program for late-night dining at Keefe which brought in over 500 students on its first run in late February — a significant number considering that the busiest mornings in Val rarely bring in more than 700 students for breakfast.

Individual senators have made progress on their respective Senate projects including creating an Amherst iPhone app, a bike share program, a “Jeffpedia,” an electric car charging station and AC Dollar machines. We’ve met with a host of different faculty and staff members to discuss a wide range of topics including improvements in the food at Val, changes in the advisor-advisee system, the future of the Little Red Schoolhouse, and the awareness and accessibility of mental health resources on campus. We’ve also managed to work together with Program Board to find a solution to the spring concert problem.

We’ve put aside our busy schedules, worked through our differences and disagreements, battled against administrative resistance at times and collaborated with individuals from every corner of the Amherst campus to create innovative solutions to solve dynamic problems.

But what we’ve really striven to do is commit to a new, higher level of focus on student opinion and reach out in more ways than we traditionally have, in order to gain a more diverse perspective, irrespective of how diverse the Senate already is. Senate seats are open to anyone who wants to run, but that doesn’t typically beget masses of students signing up to present on Speech Night. We’ve polled the student body in times of doubt and certitude alike, never forgetting that the purpose of our existence is to represent and benefit the student body as an entity. Our forums have always been open, and we constantly seek to improve how we operate. But lest we lose the true meaning of the AAS, we need constant feedback from you. Thirty two senators can benefit Amherst, but Amherst wouldn’t be anything without its body of 1,700 uniquely talented and motivated individuals. Let’s not forget what the AAS stands for, both literally and figuratively. The Amherst Association of Students is just that — a group of Amherst students. Feel free to email us, come to our meetings and talk to us at our table in Val. Better yet, please do. We want to hear your voices, because without them, the AAS wouldn’t have a voice.