Tom Gray called the Student Senate Meeting to Order at 9:01 PM in the Red Room
Tom had everyone introduce him or herself and then continued with his opening remarks. He commented on how the main criticism about the SGO projects last year was that the same two people doing them all the time. He said he hoped everyone this year would adopt a project as his or her own and follow it through.
The Senate next discussed dates for the freshmen class president and college council elections. Tom said that the election is generally held the week before fall break and the senate agreed that this would be a good time. Tabling sign-up would be over email.
Tom then fielded any additional suggestions for SGO projects that were not on the list already circulated by email. Rajiv D’Cruz talked about possible SFC reform. He said that there are some people who don’t have large bank account and they can’t easily purchase something and wait for reimbursement. Treasurer Mike DeMichele said that purchase orders are usually an option. Rajiv responded that perhaps this option was not publicized well enough.
Anishah Cumber mentioned that on of her goals on CPR would be dorm reform.
Reggie Verdieu asked why student’s can’t we get free basic phone service. Right now if a student can’t pay his or her phone bill he or she can’t even call 911. Even the ability to call between rooms would be nice. Reggie said he would take this on as his project.
Steve Ruckman commented about the lighting situation. He asked how could we get better lighting without halogen lamps. Many students already own halogen lamps and don’t want to buy something else. Perhaps physical plant could have a trade in or buy back program for the halogen lamps. Scott Wand further added that “bulb” lamps aren’t even in the local stores. Steve will get in touch with Stan Adams and Jim Brassard in physical plant.
The Committee then discussed its first proposed project, alternatives to TAP. Some suggestions at the orientation meeting had been:
-Candle Light Recitals
-Student/Faculty College Bowl or Debates, Golf Tournaments
-A More Easily accessible Social Council
It was also suggested that a survey on alcohol use and how to improve the social scene might be useful. A senator commented that surveys are usually useless however there is a large population of people on campus who don’t go out and their voice needs to be heard.
Eldar Brodski suggested having a table in valentine and having suggestion form for people to fill out. Amy Summerville added that health and wellness is interested in doing such a survey. Tom inquired whether health and wellness be willing to do alcohol free programming. Steve Vladeck a past health and wellness president said it was hard to get the interest for such events. Amy suggested that if the SGO could get ball rolling and health and wellness could pick up steam.
J. Ashley Ebersole asked whether the aim is to eventually phase out tap. He commented how he realized alternatives were needed but TAP is still well attended. Tom said the goal was definitely not to phase out tap. Eldar commented how Friday night events are key along with Thursday and Saturday night alternatives to TAP. Mike DeMichele said that Amherst needs to get the word out about five college events. Reggie commented that students need to be told they can throw alcohol free parties with SFC money. Chapin suggested that the SGO needs a liaison to the Social Council. Scott Wand added that free is good. Kristin Johnson asked about getting Schwems open on Saturday afternoon as well.
Senate members interested in working on TAP alternatives are Brad Tytel, Chapin Fay, Eldar Brodski, Gena Hatcher, Steve Ruckman, Anishah Cumber, Steve Vladeck and Amy Summerville
The Student Senate next discussed improving social events such as homecoming. The question is how to make homecoming more of an event?
Tom commented how Amherst’s homecoming is very flat while Williams’ homecoming is fantastic. He also said Justin Turner is setting up pep club and perhaps fan should be organized to go to Williams for less known sporting events. Everyone commented on the success of Lu-Av and thought that for homecoming a possibility would be to fill the social dorms with lots of colors, and have buffets of food. Scott Wand suggested having valentine serve lunch down at the football field. Mike DeMichele suggested making homecoming more like graduation or reunion weeks.
Supposedly there is an event in the cage after the game to which all people are welcome yet students hardly go. Rajiv also suggested having a food-eating contest. There was also a general consensus that we need a larger marching band and perhaps this could happen with music department backing.
Eldar Brodski, Josh Fiscel, Kristin Johnson, Andrew Doss and Josh Block will take a further look at these different possibilities.
In addition Student Senators discussed the possibility of a Merrill Beach Renovation where the area, which has the best view on campus would be turned into a more hospitable space. Perhaps students could submit possible designs for the space as part of a contest. Steve Ruckman, Ashley Ebersole, Dave Breslin, Tom Gray, Reggie Verdieu and Gena Hatcher volunteered to work on this project
Proposals for curbing dorm damage were also presented but in lieu of the forthcoming RC proposal senators felt there wasn’t any action to be taken just yet.
Next the Senate discussed potential changes to valentine such as midnight snacks, a more flexible meal plan and more free food at Schwems.
Tom suggested that an effective argument might be that for students with eating disorders it would be advantageous to have food available at all times. Reggie expressed the desire to have an area where you could get free coffee all the time. Chapin said that the reason this doesn’t happen is because Valentine complains they do not have enough help. Tom wondered whether Schwems could give away the food they cart over from valentine and then sell. Mike commented however that we have to eat there and we may be wasting our time. Bryce Barnes echoed this sentiment. Ashley asked how hard it would be to look at Valentines books and see if what they say is true about losing money etc. Amy S. commented how our food and the selection are really good compared to other schools.
Brad Tytel further complained that they charge us to use the space for social events. Steve V. said that it would be nice to have more options if you miss a meal. Perhaps you could have free points to use at the snack bar that are valid until the next meal. Chapin strongly urged that our goal shouldn’t be to attack Valentine but rather having a meaningful dialogue with them about all of this. Perhaps the SGO could fund some things like midnight snacks. Ashley also suggested having an “express sandwich bar” where students could quickly make a sandwich when they are pinched for time. Such a place could be open as well between meals.
A motion was made and seconded to form an ad hoc valentine committee. The motion passed unanimously.
Tom mentioned the possible creation of the SGO Distinguished Teaching Award modeled on what the Lafayette College SGO currently does. Daniel Cooper will look into this further and report back to the Senate.
Having an online Co-Op for students to sell various items was briefly discussed but more information is needed before the Senate takes any further action.
Changes to the School Calendar and especially reading period were then discussed.
General complaints revolve around having class on Saturday the first week of school as well as the fact that a weekend is not sufficient for a reading period. Also it seems that the school is too quick to kick us out on finals and it has some impact on students grades who have to rush to pack and study for their exams.
Steve Vladeck, Liam Fleming, Kristin Johnson, Marina Reti, Steve Ruckman, Amy Sullivan, and Ashley Ebersole agreed to work on this project.
Liam Fleming and Eldar Brodski volunteered to help Dean Brosnan with improvements to the interterm program.
Tom also mentioned that Dean Moss is always looking for volunteers to help with projects on diversity.
The Senate then moved on to discuss the need for forums and discussion given the incipient release of the faculty committee on admission and financial aid report.
Ben Armour asked what the reason for the report was. Tom said its goal was to look at admission policy, institutional policy as well as sports potentially eroding the conception of what small liberal arts college is.
Kristin Johnson asked whether the committee studied the impact of athletics on alumni giving. Steve V. responded that the committee wanted to examine athletics without bringing anything else into account. Luke Blocker suggested that maybe professors could discuss the report in class if they had extra time. Tom suggested that maybe we could get groups of dorms with mixed diversity together to talk about this. He also reminded the senate that the college has no mission statement and perhaps we need to define what we want athletics to be at Amherst.
Josh Block asked if we could get the high level administrators at this discussion. Gena Hatcher added that a lot of issues on campus are unclear, not just this one. Debbie Cook echoed the notion that professors needed to be a part of any discussion so they to could express their views.
Steve V added that Amherst plays in the NESCAC and that this fact has to be taken into account as well. The conference has certainly made a decision to go in a certain direction
Amy S voiced concern that including the word NESCAC screams that this is a dialogue for athletes and non-athletic student will feel that they don’t have a place in it. She added that everyone has a different concept of what Amherst is. Tom suggested that it is important to employ what is NESCAC’s role at Amherst College. Steve V added that being non-athletic is intertwined with NESCAC as well. (Amy responded that she was really just talking about the issue on an advertising level)
Brian Orach suggested that we need to think about what Amherst is as an entity. Understanding who athletes are and who non-athletes are will allow everyone to better get along with one another. Chapin further commented that we are talking about two different things. He said that the report is entitled “Athletics and admission” and therefore we have to deal with athletics initially and then deal with everything that springs from that. He further suggested that people don’t know what NESCAC does or what rules academic rules the conference applies to athletes.
Tom said that he sees the process as being one initially of chaos control and educating people about the report and then shaping the discussion toward a productive end. Josh Block suggested utilizing a town meeting type style. Brian Orach commented that the report could be a disaster and that it might take time for things to be forgotten and forgiven. Steve V. countered that the report could be blessing in disguise and that is hard to know until we have seen the report. Tom then drew this conversation to a close.
Liam Fleming asked whether we could encourage professors to post syllabi on the Internet long before classes began. This would make shopping for classes much easier.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:10 pm.