Aquick google search for “Amherst College traditions” uncovers a 1913 New York Times article about the College’s lively and numerous student traditions. Fast forward 98 years, however, and those self-same traditions have largely faded into obscurity.

I had some time this week to reflect on my last column, where I talked about how the AAS was playing hardball with the administration over funding for senior bar night. Maybe all it took was talking to my friend at the College of Charleston, who is trying to convince his college administration to stop a policy of aggressively patting down dorm visitors, but it dawned on me that things generally function pretty well at Amherst. When the AAS almost barricades the doors of Converse over about $1,000 of social funding, it’s a testament to how well this school actually operates.

Michelle Bachman wants constitutional bans on abortion and gay marriage to “fix” states like New York and Massachusetts, but elsewhere she hypocritically preaches for freedom of the states; Rick Perry wants to eliminate one’s individual choice to smoke marijuana yet he paradoxically opposes the health insurance mandate because it restricts individual choice. Conservatives ban civil liberties for “terrorists,” ban prostitution, pornography, free alcohol distribution and many other things they don’t like. Freedom for this, no freedom for that.

On Sept. 25, King Abdulla of Saudi Arabia gave a five-minute speech granting women the right to vote, run in municipal elections and be appointed as full voting members of the Majilis Al-Shura. These rights have been denied to women in Saudi Arabia for too long, and the King’s announcement was met with surprised reactions all over the world. But as progressive as the decision appears, the King’s announcement is motivated by self-interest rather than a belief in woman’s liberation.

Last week, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas submitted a petition for statehood to the United Nations. Clearly a two-state solution is imperative to ending the conflict. Both sides realize this — according to a March 2010 poll, 72 percent of Israelis and 57 percent of Palestinians want a two-state solution. It’s the only hope of ensuring a lasting peace, delivering justice to the Palestinians and it’s necessary for the survival of Israel as a Jewish state.

What if John McCain had won the last presidential election? An infrequently considered point is not so much what this would have meant for the United States, but rather what it would have meant for the world at large. What would the people of the world have thought about the new Commander-in-Chief, and how would they have reacted?

Oct. 16 will be a very important day in the history of the College. That morning, we will inaugurate Biddy Martin as the College’s first female president. The ceremony should be a grand event, with the crowd facing the Holyoke Mountains while the band and choir proclaim the historic moment. Representatives from the other schools in the NESCAC, local leaders and other dignitaries will all be present as witnesses to the grand event. The ceremony sounds like a wonderful thing, save for one thing — it’s outside, and Massachusetts is rainy.

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