AAS SENATE MEETING

Monday, April 19, 2004

 

I. Attendance

SENIOR SENATORS

12

Livia Angiolillo

/

Kay Bradley

x

Mihailis Diamantis

U

Lincoln Mayer

U

Preston Scheiner

X

Luke Swarthout

X

JUNIOR SENATORS

 

Ethan Davis

X

Rosalyn Foster

X

Jin-Young Kim

U

Arpan Podduturi

X

Daniel Reiss

X

Christian Sanchez

/

David Scherr

X

Justin Sharaf

X

SOPHOMORE SENATORS

 

Rania Arja

X

Taamiti Bankole

X

Caleb Deats

X

John Lian

U

Stephen Scriber

X

Mira Serrill-Robins

X

Ian Shin

X

Matt Vanneman

X

FRESHMEN SENATORS

 

Richa Bhala

X

Avi Das

X

Noah Isserman

X

Marco Locascio

X

Gloria Monfrini

X

Levan Moulton

X

Christina Ryu

X

Jacob Thomas

X

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

 

Elan Ghazal

X

Ryan Park

X

Ryan Smith

U

Di Shui

U

Paris Wallace

U

x = Present

 

 

 

 

E =Excused Absence

 

 

U = Unexcused Absence

 

/ = Half an Absence

 

 

II. Call to Order (9:04 PM)

III. A History and Discussion of Varsity and Club Athletics at Amherst (9:05 PM)

Dean Lieber: We are here by your invitation so I assume we are here to answer any questions that you might have. I am also working on the assumption that the questions you have are financial. They stem from the decision that took place 12 years ago which eliminated wrestling as a varsity sport and change men’s and women’s skiing and crew from varsity status to club status. At that point, it was the student government that decided to pick up the costs for skiing and crew to ensure those sports got perpetuated. Some of the costs are still picked up by the athletic department. Coach Gooding can talk a little about the specifics. The decision at that time was purely financial. Various budgets had to be cut, including most significantly the athletic department. The recommendation of the committee that met was to eliminate three sports rather than cut all sports across the board. That is a kind of brief outline of the history of it.

Coach Gooding: Wrestling died before we dropped it. We did create in our recommendation, because we anticipated that both crew and ski would be maintained by the students, a “varsity club” status which is a different level. These are sports we provide some support for. Rugby, skiing, and crew are these types of sports. The remaining club sports are just regular club sports. It was agreed by the administration that we would continue to support crew and skiing for three years. I must admit to you that we have continued to support them well beyond that original mandate. The most the department provides is $30,000-$35,000 and that goes primarily to coaches. Although we have tried to honor the autonomy of clubs, and we don’t really tell them what to do with the small stipends that we give them, the tradition is that the stipend goes to the coaches’ salaries. We have supported that although we haven’t enforced it. Since there is safety issues in training for crew and skiing it is important to have coaches. We recommended to the Dean’s Office that we assume supervisory responsibility of club sports because we felt things were getting very disjointed. We wrote up a constitution and tried to honor the student government’s definition of what a club is. I appointed a member of our department to be responsible for club sports. We took club sports away from the supervision of the Dean’s Office and that is about where we are. We have tried to provide officers of the club with advice on how to structure their financing but we have tried to honor their autonomy to some degree.

Ryan Park: Could you break down the $35,000 and to which of the three varsity club sports it goes to? Is there nothing that precludes you from funding club sports other than budgetary constraints?

Coach Gooding: I think that we are trying to honor the original agreement. It was an extremely controversial and heartfelt process to drop three teams. At the time we agreed to do it in the attempt to reduce the size of the athletic budget. I think we are honor bound in a sense to not go beyond that partly because the athletic budget is generally in deficit each year. Our budget has ranged anywhere from 4%-8% over the last few years. It would require approval from the senior administration to change that. I couldn’t arbitrarily allocate more money to the clubs without some sort of approval for it. $20,000 goes to crew which goes primarily to coaching, $5,000 for rugby, and $5,000-$6,000 for skiing. There is a small endowment for skiing that gives some additional money for skiing. There is another endowed fund for crew which I have no authority over and that yields an additional amount of money for crew ($6,000 additional for crew).

Kelly: I am wondering when you say there is $5000 going to the ski team coming from the athletic department, is that from the endowment or is that additional funding?

Coach Gooding: I think we might be splitting hairs because there are two separate accounts for skiing. One was originally for physical education and I allocate that to skiing and that is the funding. I wouldn’t know how that allocation is described after it is given.

Matt: What do the budgets of the most expensive varsity sports look like?

Coach Gooding: Football is the most expensive sport that we have but if you prorate it against the number of students participating it levels out. Golf is also a very expensive sport. Football, Men’s and Women’s Hockey, and the other helmeted sports such as lacrosse are the most expensive. Most schools that have these kinds of interests about how sports should be supported within an institution generally go through a process in the end of throwing everything in a hat for one sport and then prorating it against the amount of students participating.

Jake: My question is that at any point in time since you have decided to make the distinction between varsity sports and varsity club sports, was there ever the intention of the department to re-recognize skiing and crew as varsity sports at Amherst?

Coach Gooding: The reason crew was selected was because it had vacillated in the history of the school between club and varsity. There was a tradition in crew because of a professor here who was the coach who introduced the sport here at Amherst. Even though it was intercollegiate, it retained many of the qualities of a varsity club. We selected it because it was grossly under-funded. To jumpstart crew would have required an enormous expenditure. Occasionally I have had members of crew or skiing asked me if they could become varsity sports again, and I have said it wouldn’t be feasible at the moment. I think the impression is that the athletic culture is too big already. I think it would be very difficult to persuade various constituents in the college to add more sports. The faculty for example feels we have too large a program already.

Steve: In regards to the $30,000 for varsity clubs this year, how do you determine which clubs get such and such amount of money?

Coach Gooding: It has been a consistent amount each year. Sometimes in rugby one of our students is selected for the national team and we try to help. The shift comes in the endowment parts.

Steve: How were they allocated initially?

Coach Gooding: We weren’t spending very much money on crew before we dropped it. I arbitrarily took chunks of money and said we would save this for a varsity club. I think we thought at the time that there would be other things that would come along and be very popular and we should be able to support it. Skiing has vacillated, but rugby and crew are still very strong. It is pretty easy to evaluate rugby because I am generally talking to their officers 2-3 times a week. The crew coach is like an intercollegiate coach and we are very concerned about safety and so it is important to help them. Skiing has been the most problematic. I used to select the coach and it was often someone in our community but the officers decided they would rather use that money for the program and get coaching on the mountain. The officers for skiing have been very responsible over the years and they have reported to me about how things are going.

Justin: When you compare the athletic department budget at Amherst to other NESCAC schools it is a lot smaller and I am wondering if there is a reason for that. If that was increased, could you take on the responsibility for one of the club sports?

Coach Gooding: There are two things that happen. Every year there is an affirmative action report that has to be submitted and it gives you overall details of the budgets and that is online. There is a much more detailed review on the NESCAC budgets that was done 2 years ago. We were around the middle even though we were a smaller school. As you might imagine, the largest component of budgets are salaries. In that area, not so much in coaching but support and staff, it is well supported. If you take for instance Williams, there budget is more than a third larger than ours. I truthfully couldn’t imagine there would never be an initiative taken at Amherst to embrace an increase in the athletic department budget. I think it is quite the opposite. The committee Dean Lieber and I sat on with other students fragmented between those who supported an increase and those who supported a decrease.

Dean Lieber: The renovation of the gym and the fitness center was a multimillion dollar project that was a successful one. When there is a perception that we are really suffering in comparison with out competitors there is an initiative to change that.

Justin: In terms of the process of donations to the athletic department, if someone were to donate money to the ski team through the athletic department would that money actually get to the ski team?

Coach Gooding: It is absurd to imagine that money would be given to a specific sport and that sport wouldn’t get it. There is a general belief that Amherst is not happy about designated giving. The administration will persuade the person donating to give it in an open ended way. Regularly, parents have often wanted to make a gift and have been persuaded to give money in a general way. There is a way that sports can get direct giving under the Friends of Amherst Athletics. We use the membership money to offset for our women’s programs in comparison to the men’s. To try to balance off those gifts such as football, we use that. There is close to $100,000 being generated for sports each year. It would be almost impossible that a gift would come in and it would not end up at the desired place.

Rania: Are there other reasons other than financial reasons to eliminate these sports as varsity sports?

Coach Gooding: There were some other reasons. We had a definition of on campus off campus. The fact that skiing took place up the mountain and that crew was off campus was a factor. It was principally cost per student.

Rania: Do you have any ideas for us to come to some sort of a solution for how we can keep these clubs maintained?

Coach Gooding: I don’t know the evolution of how you have allocated money. I am surprised why suddenly some sports have become too expensive to support. I would have to say that I think the best resolution for programs that want to protect themselves is to be creative in raising money. Crew did that to some extent by raising an endowment.

Dean Lieber: There is always the possibility of raising the student activities fee and that is through referendum. You could specify that a portion of that is for club sports. Whether you collectively think that would be an appropriate solution I don’t know.

Ryan Park: Is it true that the College Council unilaterally decided to raise that fee?

Dean Lieber: No it proposes it and then it has to go to referendum.

Ryan Park: What is the current level of the ski endowment?

Kelly: It supports about 2-3 racers. It is not that large of a fund.

Coach Gooding: It was originally a gift and there has been no attempt to add to that amount. Crew has requested quite often to generate solicitations to increase their endowments and that has been modestly successful from time to time. Rugby has just been given permission to create an endowment.

Roz: I know at other institutions coaches have the ability to solicit money at their own free will, does that happen here?

Gooding: Coaches do that under the Friends of Amherst Athletics.

Mira: I know that the alumni office does not give names or contact information and I know it is hard to get an endowment started. I would just ask you to talk about that.

Coach Gooding: The institution is very guarded about providing alumni mailing lists. If a club sport requests a mailing list it has to go through the same procedure as varsity clubs. The alumni secretary and I have to give our signatures. Crew has been the most consistent in using mailing lists. Rugby isn’t far behind. They are sort of very immediate.

Elan: Where can I access the handbook for club sports?

Coach Gooding: In the athletic department. It exists to protect the interests of students. It does provide a framework for other clubs as they come along.

 

IV. Approval of the Minutes (9:50 PM)

Roz: Motion to approve the minutes.

Taamiti: Second

Mira, Matt, and Elan make corrections.

Minutes are approved by unanimous consent.

 

V. Officer Reports (9:55 PM)

A. President

Ryan Park: I can read to everyone the letter I got from Marx. It is very non committal.

Reads letter written by Marx.

With emphasis on the last line we interpreted that he has rejected the plan that we have put forth and he wants to see if 100 people giving up cars works out. Our plan was to have the upper tennis courts changed to a parking lot. That plan would have cost significantly more than the other lot. Also, the honor code passed and the next step for the changes we proposed is for the faculty to approve them.

Ethan: Would this parking plan apply to rising sophomores?

Ryan Park: No, the incentive program only applies to juniors and seniors.

 

B. Vice President

Elan: We are going to have the complete fall budget on the agenda next week. Also, we are in a bind for the freshmen class project since there is no money left. I will look into what we have in the administrative funds.

 

VI. Announcements (10:00 PM)

Luke: We just had the meeting for the elections. I have 12 freshmen, 7 sophomores, and 10 junior petitions. Competitive elections are going to happen. The student statements are due by tomorrow at 9 AM in my inbox. There is mandatory speech night on Thursday at 8 PM and petitions are due on Thursday. If you cannot make it you must email the secretary, cc me, and announce who your proxy will be.

Elan: If you are working for someone who is running from abroad, just email Luke and say who is going to act as your proxy.

Christina: The Juarez Group was just recognized as an official Amherst student organization. We are having our first event this weekend and we are looking for volunteers. Our goal is to have 500 young women representing the victims of the murders. We think it would make a very strong statement as elected members if you represented the student body there. It will be followed up by a reception and symposium. This is happening on Saturday May 1st. Email Christina Morales if you want to get involved with that. There are three people that are family members of the victims that will be speaking there

Mira: This Friday is the Millionth Volume Celebration. There is a reception on Friday evening and a talk on the life and work of James Merrill on Saturday. I am hoping that Elan will talk to you about librarian candidate interviews. This person will really shape the library for the next 20 years hopefully. If anyone has any comments or questions you can email me.

Elan: We are probably going to have next Monday’s meeting at 8:30 PM.

Ian: Tomorrow night the working group on writing, a result of the CEP, will be meeting to talk about the results of the surveys. There will be no faculty or staff members there. Hopefully it will be very open. There will be food. Friday night is the Amherst Idol competition.

Elan: I want to congratulate the new e-board members.

Matt: Elections are today, tell your friends to vote.

Gloria: How and where do we get tickets for the spring concert?

Mira: Go to Kim’s office. We are also going to be tabling next week.

Luke: Saturday from 10 AM-4 PM there is going to be a conference on how Amherst College can leverage its investment responsibility in the companies we invest in. There will be a series of panels including professors and they will talk about the current wave of activism. A series of students from other colleges will speak about what other colleges and campuses are doing. It is sponsored by an assortment of other groups.

Taamiti: The BSU is putting on the Caribfest and it is important to know that they funded $6000 from sources other than the AAS. There will be a party, band, dinner, and lectures.

Levan: The Ugandan girl who we gave money to fund is coming on Wednesday and you should come to see her. She is a really amazing girl.

Ethan: There will be a candlelight vigil for life on the quad.

 

V. New Business (10:13 PM)

A. Bylaw Amendment

Rania: VI, A, 1e: Bradley Shuttle Committee 5 members

Mira: Second.

Matt: Call the question.

Luke: I object. We discussed some of this in terms of making this a fixed part of the budget and I think the discussion there was that it is a great project but it has only been going on for a year. I don’t think it falls under the jurisdiction of the types of organizations we put under this.

Rania: It has been going on for 2 years and I am doing it as a representative of the AAS. I don’t want it to be the Rania Arja shuttle and I want it to be associated with the AAS. I have 2 years to work with someone to show them the responsibility,

Ryan Park: There is no precedent for putting a committee in the AAS and so there is no reason why we shouldn’t have AAS committees that have funding allocations.

Dan: I think it may be better to have an ad-hoc committee for the next two years to see how things go. It seems that at this point it is the committee of Rania and not the AAS.

Elan: It has been an ad-hoc committee that Rania has chaired.

Mira: I think it is hasty to make it a committee because we already have too many committees and you have had people on your committee that haven’t been of any help to you.

Roz: I also think the idea behind it is a noble one but it ignores a large portion of the population of Amherst College. It caters to a specific group of people.

Matt: You can move to get rid of a committee once you have it.

Justin: Based on the incompetence of the AAS, I don’t think other people will put the dedication on this when she graduates.

Rania: We cater to a specific group of people all the time. Every time we do it, Valley Transporter loses money and I think that is significant. I think more students use this than participate in other clubs. There are other people that use this to get to Bradley and then go somewhere else. In response to the ad-hoc committees it is hard for me to get a commitment from people. I want people to pick this up afterwards. If I leave I don’t want this to just end.

Livia: Call the question.

Bradley Shuttle Bylaw - MOTION FAILS: 13-14-0.

Ryan Park: If people want to talk about parking you can do it if you want to.

Marco: I am just wondering what the follow up is for the discussion we just had.

Kay: The athletic committee will be discussing this next semester. The ski team has a meeting with Dean Lieber tomorrow and I am meeting with him on Friday. The only move we have with the administration is asking them to be freer with the endowment.

Justin: I have heard a lack of support in so far as making a statement about the parking.

Dan: We are telling the student body what the outcome is going to be? The student body is being directly polled in this case.

Luke: We could say something that says we would like to see 100 students to sign up but I don’t think there would be any way of commenting on it by making a meaningful statement.

Justin: There are about 400 sophomores and juniors that have parking permits and I think it is going to be ridiculous to get a quarter of those students to give up their parking permits. I would support something that says that is an unreasonable request to make.

Richa: I think it is unreasonable but our saying that as a body would dampen the success of that proposal significantly. By making that statement we are killing the proposal and we should have a replacement one if we do that.

Ryan Park: The students working on this did not want to do this but this was the last possibility.

Justin: Is President Marx aware that the students working to do this do not represent the student body?

Luke: That is essentially the point. The challenge from his perspective is to show him that there is enough support for this and this will be meaningful. He doesn’t know if everyone thinks this or doesn’t which is why I don’t think we can weigh in.

Elan: How many people on the committee have cars that they park on campus?

Ryan Park: None.

Matt: I move to pass a resolution stating that the Senate does not support the current initiative of implementing a lottery system of incentives to decrease parking.

Roz: Second.

Matt: I think we all have our opinions on this. This is the least pragmatic compromise available.

Dave: There are a lot of people that cheat regarding parking permits and there is no guarantee it won’t happen here.

Ryan Park: This has been my problem with the plan.

Ethan: This isn’t a problem with the plan; this is why the plan sucks.

Mira: I don’t think the plan is going to work, but I think it is a good idea and it will show what the student body wants. I don’t think there is any other solution. I have listened to a lot of talk about it myself and I think that it is not really in the bird sanctuary and I wish President Marx would have made that clearer earlier. This resolution isn’t really saying anything.

Stephen: I think that this plan is insane since it bribes people for something they wouldn’t do. Giving out money to buy time isn’t something we should do. It doesn’t address our problem in the long run. There is no campus wide consensus and I think all we are doing is sinking a plan.

Luke: I think this is a remarkably complex issue. I don’t necessarily think it will work but if it does then great. I don’t understand why we would sink the only plan on the table. We haven’t been engaged in the process and it undermines the students that are actually doing things.

Roz: I think that we are undermining the students’ decision but at the same time they didn’t come to the Senate about the proposal.

Marco: I would like to say that this is a good idea. I don’t know what a resolution is going to do but I like the idea of writing a letter that students can see.

Richa: How many people have signed?

Luke: Very few.

Richa: If it is going to sink anyway then why throw the last stone.

Parking Resolution - MOTION FAILS: 8-16-1.

Levan: I feel uncomfortable about our students not thinking this is a big enough issue. I would urge everyone to talk to our constituents to give Mr. Marx some viewpoints to look at.

Elan: Do you want to have an AAS party? If there is going to be one it has to happen this Saturday. Put the $5 in my mailbox.

 

VII. Adjournment (10:44 PM)