Social Project Work Group Seeks Trial Period Funding
Issue   |   Wed, 11/04/2015 - 02:49

The Social Project Work Group met with the Office of Student Affairs on Oct. 23 to work out plans for the upcoming social club trial period. The meeting followed the Oct. 5 vote in which 64 percent of the student body voted in favor of holding the trial period.

“To have 1,200 students actually vote was huge,” said Dean of Students Alex Vasquez. The four classes were almost equally represented in the vote.

“The point of the discussion was to lay out a general timeline for implementing the clubs by next semester,” said Tom Sommers ’16, a member of the work group.

One topic for discussion was how to create the computer algorithm, detailed in the proposal, to organize students into social clubs.

Sommers said that the work group is looking to the college community for help in creating the algorithm. “We’ve actually contacted students in the computer science department, people in the computer science club on campus, and they have been really receptive to potentially figuring out something that would work,” Sommers said. According to Vasquez, the administration will fund paid positions to create the algorithm.

The work group and the Office of Student Affairs then tackled the issue of funding the entire implementation process. Sommers and Virginia Hassell ’16, another member of the work group, said that they were hoping to obtain funding from the administration, and plan to hold another meeting with the Office of Student Affairs to discuss the subject.

Vasquez said the Office of Student Affairs can provide funding for the algorithm but does not have the resources to fund the entire social club trial period. “The administration isn’t going to fund a $30,000 project. We don’t have it,” Vasquez said.

Another topic for discussion was the term “social clubs.” “We’ve got something we’re calling social clubs, which just by name alone, [are] banned by the trustee decision of 1984 and the one that was reaffirmed in 2014 that bans fraternities and social clubs,” Vasquez said. “On the positive side … the things that [are] being defined as social clubs by the board don’t look anything like what we’re calling social clubs now.”

The work group also met with the budgetary committee of the Association of Amherst Students on Oct. 27. “They basically helped us look through the budget,” Sommers said. “They’re really helpful, and going through ways we could squeeze money out of the current budget to allow for the trial period to be implemented … there’s no promise that any of the money will go towards social clubs, but they have roughly $10,000 that they think could be available for the clubs if they were to qualify for that funding.”

The work group intends to collect student feedback over the course of this coming semester and incorporate it into the implementation plan. Meghan McDonough ’16, a member of the work group, said that they plan on reaching out to the student body this semester for ideas for club themes.

According to Sommers, the work group is on track to implement the social club trial period by next semester.