AAS Mandates Use of Zaikah Event Calendar for All Clubs
Issue   |   Tue, 03/12/2013 - 22:36

Last Monday the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) approved a motion that will hopefully result in increased attendance for campus events. Club leaders are now required to post their AAS–funded events on Zaikah, an event–calendar website created by Amar Mukunda ’15.

“The whole idea is to improve the way that students get information out about their events,” AAS Vice President George Tepe ’14 said.

The AAS will still provide $10 of funding for clubs to advertise their events through posters, fliers and table tents.

“Zaikah is a new tool for campus use that will provide the first comprehensive listing of events,” Mukunda said.

Mukunda started work on Zaikah about one year ago.

“I started Zaikah because I think that our community — as well as most other college and university communities — has poor infrastructure for communication,” Mukunda said. “I am trying to create the best possible calendar and event system anyone could ever imagine.”

Mukunda hopes that Zaikah will be an exportable model after success at Amherst.

“It is a set of tools which will be useful for communities to communicate important things,” Mukunda said. “I hope it can help unite the Pioneer Valley, and if it has success here we can try to export it to other locations as well.”

Mukunda also stressed that Zaikah is a work in progress, and that he wants “the community to be engaged into what sorts of tools go into the site.”

Mukunda was approached by Senate member John Yarchoan ’13 about the idea of the College adopting his website.

“I’ve known Amar since high school, and we periodically talked about his ideas for his website,” Yarchoan said. “I thought that it solved a problem the Senate faces when we give money to clubs that don’t follow through with the rules of having their events be open and nondiscriminatory.”

In the past, clubs have had the option of posting their events on the College event calendar, located on the Amherst website. However, this calendar has proved less than effective at informing students of upcoming events.

“I don’t think that many students even know that the Amherst college campus calendar exists,” Yarchoan said.

“It’s pretty is hard to navigate,” Tepe said. “Zaikah’s interface is much better and easier to use.”

The vote for this ruling was not unanimous, passing 18-12 with 4 abstentions.

“The pros were that we liked the interface, and we thought that it is sometimes difficult to pick out one event from all the posters and table tents,” Tepe said. “The major con was the idea of this requirement, seemingly forcing students to tell them how they need to publicize.”

Due to this problem, the requirement is in a trial phase this semester.

“There is a sunset clause that means that our ruling will end after this semester,” Tepe said. “Next year’s Senate will have to vote to re-up Zaikah.”

Some club leaders have expressed frustration at the Senate’s new implementation of Zaikah.

“At the end of the day it doesn’t help the students – it’s redundant,” WAMH leader Tony Russo ’15 said. “We get e-digest emails every week listing events.”

However, Yarchoan sees a need for Zaikah.

“Zaikah can do things the College event calendar and e-digest emails will never be able to do,” Yarchoan said. “The calendar will support mainly academic things but Zaikah can have social functions, athletic events, even stand-up comedians. It is a far broader and better idea.”

According to Mukunda, the faculty will consider adopting Zaikah at its next meeting.