In Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” Little Red Riding Hood questions “Isn’t it nice to know a lot / and a little bit not.” This phrase, as a postscript to a number in which she extols the virtues of knowledge and mastery, poses a perennial question for students like us. If we are committed to intellectual inquiry, can we or should we imagine that we know and can do everything? Or, is it perhaps better to know “a little bit not,” and to cope and live with the unexplored mystery beyond our own intellect and power?

At the Nov. 17 faculty meeting, Dean of the Faculty Catherine Epstein invited students to speak about academic workload. Students spoke about how they juggled academics alongside work study jobs, familial and personal issues, extracurricular and athletic commitments and sleep. They called on faculty members to be more flexible with deadlines. They spoke about how fear permeated Amherst classrooms. Interestingly, the stories, grievances and suggestions which students shared did not wholly cohere around the idea that we have too much work.

We at Amherst speak of organizing social life on the model of the team. We have athletic, Title IX and case management teams. Deans throw around the phrase “teams of students.” The 2015 strategic plan recommends “creating teams of first-year students and staff” to cure cultures of busyness and loneliness, cultures which preclude “social interaction and community.” Of course, never are we asked exactly how teams will resolve the lack of “social interaction and community.”

When I applied to join the Social Project Work Group as one of six at-large members appointed by the AAS senate, I was adamant about my antagonistic role. Social clubs, as they had been proposed, would have to be defeated. If not, they would need to be fundamentally transformed. Unfortunately, they have not been. So, today I write to encourage you to vote “no” to social clubs on Thursday. The work group did not resolve the significant problems posed in the open letter 28 students signed last November.

There is a very unnatural event occurring in Massachusetts today. It is something that seems almost foreign (dare call it European) to our recent American politics. This unnatural phenomenon is the Massachusetts Senate race. The race is one of the most closely followed national races, partly because of the history of the contested seat and partially because of the politics of the candidates.