Students Vote Yes to Social Clubs Trial Period
Issue   |   Wed, 10/14/2015 - 02:49

Sixty-four percent of the student body voted on Oct. 5 in favor of holding a trial period for social clubs this spring semester.

Members of the Social Project Work Group, the organization responsible for writing the proposal, said the vote was intended to gauge student opinion of the proposal, but the results do not mean that Amherst is required to create social clubs.

The work group has yet to create an official plan for implementing and funding social clubs on campus. Tom Sommers ’16, a member of the work group, said that at this time, the major components of the social club proposal are unlikely to change, and that there are several preparations necessary for implementation to take place.

“More of our focus is going to be on implementation rather than refinement,” Sommers said. “We’re going to go ahead and talk with the administration and see where that goes in terms of their ideas for implementation.”

The work group plans to meet with administrators by next week to discuss and develop plans, as well as determine the administration’s role going forward.

A main goal of the work group this semester is seeking out diverse input on the proposal.

“One of the most important things as we move forward is to get feedback from the people who voted ‘no’ on the proposal, because if this is something that’s going to be implemented, we want to make sure that as many students as possible are happy with what we’re doing,” Sommers said.

In the coming months, the work group plans to hold several open-forum events for students to express their concerns about social clubs.

“The beauty of having a trial period is that it’ll give us time to work with the administration and also to get feedback from students to see what works,” said Virginia Hassell ’16, another member of the work group.

The work group is also looking for a representative from the college administration to sit on the Social Club Oversight Committee. They plan to reach out to computer science departments in the Five College area to work on an algorithm for assigning students to clubs.

One issue that has attracted campus-wide attention following the vote is how the implementation of social clubs will be funded.

“It would seem like an obvious choice for them to use AAS funding because this was a student initiative, and we are the student government,” said Paul Gramieri ’17, treasurer of the AAS. Gramieri has been a vocal opponent of using the Budgetary Committee to fund social clubs.

“We don’t have the funding for it, and if we were to fund this, money would be taken away from other established clubs on campus,” Gramieri said. “The cost of the social clubs would basically be getting rid of the discretionary fund. The only way to prevent that would be to increase the student activities fee, and tuition.”

According to Gramieri, the work group has not yet contacted the AAS about funding. A disclaimer on the website for the vote states that the AAS has not taken an official stance on social clubs.

The work group plans to collect feedback and discuss plans over the course of the semester. They will work on creating a finalized plan over interterm that they hope will be implemented in the spring.

Dan Ahn ’17 contributed reporting.