Still Representing the Student Body and Being a Pain in the AAS
Issue   |   Wed, 09/14/2011 - 00:47

Last year, then-AAS Senator (and now current President) Romen Borsellino started a column in The Student to keep the student body in touch with the weekly doings of the AAS. Romen sensed (correctly) that few outside of the Senate understood what went on in Senate meetings, and even fewer believed that the AAS was serving a real, valuable purpose on campus.

And so, the “Pain in the AAS” column began to run in The Student.
Much of the inspiration for originally starting the column a year ago remains. Students are still genuinely confused as to what exactly the AAS does other than handle bureaucratic budgetary issues. When the Senate actually does accomplish something, few on campus know who to credit. The Senate agreed that the “Pain in the AAS” should continue this year, and I will write it — at least until I can find something better to do in the 30 minutes between my 2pm class and ultimate Frisbee practice (sleep?).

This week is as good as any to advertise that, alas, we are really doing things!
Much of the discussion at Monday’s meeting centered on the administration’s recent decision to cut Social Council funding of Senior Bar night. Many senators who attended the “Where da Party At?” meeting were dissatisfied by the answers that Dean Fatemi and others gave for their decision to cut funding for the event.

For those not up to speed on all of this, the issue at hand is about $1,000 of Social Council (SoCo for the cool kids) funding that had previously been used to pay for bar covers, DJs and room space at local bars for seniors. The funding had never explicitly been used for alcohol.

Senator Alexander Hurst ’12 raised the idea that the AAS could cover senior bar night expenses in order to preserve one of the few senior traditions on campus. Some senators wondered if a move like this — especially on the heels of meeting on this issue — would serve as a direct shot at the administration. One senator worried that there might be severe ramifications if the AAS angered the administration, since technically the administration allots the AAS budget. Another senator stated that “This is nothing personal against the administration; we are simply speaking on behalf of the students as we were elected to do.” Others took a more aggressive tone, noting that the administration didn’t consult us on their decision.

After much debate, senior Alex Hurst’s proposition gained traction among senators of various classes, and a general consensus emerged that this was a battle — albeit a small one — worth fighting on behalf of the student body. Various senators also used socioeconomic and budgetary arguments to justify funding the measure.

Ultimately, the Senate voted to send the entire senior class a survey about how they would feel about the AAS covering senior bar night expenses, and we will potentially vote on the specific allocation of money next week.

Romen, keeping a neutral tone, served up the most quotable and un-paraphrasable line of the night at the end of the discussion, noting that “[addressing these contentious issues] is exactly what we should be doing in the AAS, and not wasting our time squabbling over whether or not to give some club an extra five dollars. We speak for the students, and regardless of
where you stand on this issue, it is one that concerns all of us.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Monday’s meeting also introduced several other issues that will be on the agenda in the coming weeks. I’m working with the administration to start an Amherst bike share program. Several other senators also joined Romen on the Speaker’s Board, and will try in the coming months to attract more big name speakers to Amherst.

Oh, and we also agreed to give Val a very friendly “declaration of appreciation” letter in recognition of the improved service and food quality. We are just nice like that.