Students Select Four Branches for Spring Trial Period
Issue   |   Tue, 02/09/2016 - 23:49

Students participated in an online poll on Jan. 27 to determine which proposals for Branches would be implemented for this semester’s trial period. Three hundred and seventy-one students responded to the poll and selected four Branches to be formed. Enrollment for Branches will be open through Wednesday, Feb. 10.

The Association of Amherst Students administered the poll, which contained an accompanying statement that said “Branches will seek to engage students from across campus by diversifying nightlife, school-wide events, and other activities at Amherst, both for students who choose to join Branches and those who do not.”

The poll offered students seven proposals for Branches, and each student could cast up to four votes. Each proposed Branch was represented by a color and a mascot, as well as several ideas for college-wide events that the Branch would host.

“We wanted to keep [the process] student-centric, so the work group was started by students, and the idea was brought forth by students, and then we wanted to open the creation of the clubs to students,” Kyndall Ashe ’18, a member of the work group, said. “We were really happy with the voter turnout, because it’s hard to get 300 students to do anything … and we’re really excited that so many people are still interested in the idea and are still providing an opinion,” she said.

The four Branches that received the most support were the 301 Branch, the Buena Vista Branch, the SOS (Save Our Social Life) Branch and the Ailurus Branch. The two that did not receive enough votes for implementation were the Fourth Wall Branch and the Knights of the Triangle Table Branch. The 301 Branch, which garnered the most support with 238 votes, plans on hosting an Oktoberfest Potluck and a Mayfest as its campus-wide events.

The poll follows several months of organizing from the Social Project Work Group, which collected student feedback over the course of last semester The work group began collecting submissions for ideas in late November, about a month after the student body voted to approve the trial period. They met with each student or group who had submitted an idea to discuss whether their ideas were feasible and eventually narrowed down the list to six.

The work group decided over winter break to change the name of the project from social clubs to Branches, because the board of trustees’ decision to ban on-campus fraternities in 1984 also explicitly prohibited “social clubs.”

After students finish submitting their preferences for membership in Branches, the work group will run the votes through an algorithm to distribute the students.

“The algorithm will tentatively be run this upcoming weekend, so people who enter into the algorithm should be placed in Branches in the near future, and Branches will begin operating shortly thereafter,” Tom Sommers ’16, another member of the work group, said.