President Steve Ruckman called the meeting to order at 9:10 p.m. Mr. Ruckman provided some opening remarks for the new cycle of the Student Government, hoping for a term of productivity, cooperation, and progress. As it was the first meeting of the newly elected officers and senators, all members in attendance introduced themselves and told the Senate what capacity they served.
The first order of business was the appointment of an Ad-Hoc Health Services Liaison who could work with Dr. Clapp on addressing students’ concerns in a meaningful manner, instead of just complaining on the Daily Jolt or in dorm rooms. The Senate approved the appointment of Anna Bender to fill this role.
Phil Tucker then spoke about Health Services extending walk-in hours from 2:00-4:30 in the afternoon. Mr. Tucker informed the Senate that the Health Services would give over-the-counter medication to those diagnosed sick by a doctor. Mr. Tucker also stated that physical plant would put in soap dispensers over the summer.
Phil Fitz, Director of Amherst’s IT, spoke next on student trouble with the internet speed. Mr. Fitz informed us that last Spring the school had a full T1 connection and was using about half of its capacity. In the Fall of 1999, the T1 became completely full and the school doubled its bandwidth to adjust for the additional traffic. Mr. Fitz was unsure why the traffic increased and thought that Amherst’s internet traffic might have been merged with that of UMass. To rectify the merger, Amherst and UMass segregated the traffic flow between colleges and added a second T1, thus doubling capacity. Mr. Fitz told us that Amherst’s capacity continued to be reached and that traffic had doubled per semester. Mr. Fitz told us that IT was investigating the source of this traffic and plausible solutions. Mr. Fitz told us that other schools are finding that Napster is the source for the traffic. Mr. Fitz told us that copyright issues might also determine the school’s policy on Napster. Mr. Fitz told the Senate that the most cost-effective approach is to stick with the Five Colleges on bandwidth because their combined force would mean increased negotiating power. Mr. Fitz said that he should have the analysis of the data provided by the students sometime during this upcoming summer. Ashley Ebersole suggested to Mr. Fitz that he draft a letter to the student body clarifying the technicalities of the internet speed.
The next item covered was the Student Senate retreat scheduled for Friday, September 1st in the Front Room of the Campus Center. Attendance was strongly recommended.
The Student Senate then discussed a resolution restricting the number of Student Government positions that could be held simultaneously. Mr. Ebersole said that it should be up to the students to decide. Steve Vladeck commented that he liked the proposal because it would encourage participation by the student body. Ms. Bender said that students run for multiple positions to ensure that they have a seat on the Student Senate. Dave Breslin observed that some committees meet at different times with varying degrees of importance, and that students should not be limited. Mr. Tucker was concerned that students would spread themselves too thin, but he thought a more viable solution to this problem would be to make sure that committee members attended all meetings. Jesse Freedman asked why make a small student government even smaller by having the same people in so many positions. Vanessa Champion responded to this concern by questioning how big of a problem the size of the Senate was. Mr. Vladeck asked that the Senate not ignore the effect this resolution would have on elections. Leif Bohman said that since students are presently not fighting for positions, there is no problem if a student seeks multiple offices. Ms. Johnson proposed having position at Large so people who want to have a voice do not have to choose a committee. Ms. Johnson volunteered to looking into drafting a resolution. There was a motion to vote and the motion was seconded and approved. The resolution passed by a vote of 16 for, 10 against, and 1 absentia.
The next resolution discussed recommended rewording the election code to publicize the availability of funds for candidates. It was noted that the funds have always been available, this resolution would make it official. It was suggested the reimbursement be based on receipts because that way the Senate could be reasonably confident that not all failed candidates would be motivated enough to receive reimbursement. Ben Armour requested a time limit to be imposed in Section 2 of the resolution saying that “…reimbursed within a 14 day limit after the completion of elections.” This was approved. There was a brief discussion on the merits of changing the spending cap. A motion to vote was placed before the chair, seconded, and approved by the Senate. The resolution passed by a vote of 26 for, 0 against, and 2 abstentious.
The next resolution proposed making the Freshmen Class President a non-voting member of the Trustee Advisory Committee on Student Life. Mr. Freedman expressed a desire for greater freshmen representation in the Senate, commenting that only three of the twenty-eight committee representatives are first-year students. Ms. Johnson, who serves on the Trustee Advisory Committee, said that the trustees often ask questions that require experience at Amherst. It was noted that on committees the interests of other classes do not differ from the interests of the freshmen class. There was discussion on how to get freshman involved early. Mr. Breslin said that incoming freshmen will realize that they are no longer in high school and will no longer join every club. The resolution was tabled for the time being.
The next resolution proposed making the Freshman Class President a single-semester position. Mr. Vladeck said that he did not want the election to be a popularity contest. Ms. Champion commented that it takes a long time to get projects fulfilled and that continuity would be helpful for projects. It was mentioned that the class President has to accomplish a project that takes time to plan, and that if the position was reduced to a single-semester how could the student body have any sense of how the President was doing. Seth Birnbaum mentioned that maybe an apprenticeship program would be helpful. The resolution failed by a vote of 2 for, 20 against, and 3 abstentions.
The Senate then discussed some projects that individual Senators would like to see accomplished during the term. Ms. Johnson suggested that, before we put forth proposals, we should consult the Administration to make sure our goals were not too lofty. Marisol Thomer was interested in the codification of flyers. Mr. Ebersole suggested investigating the construction of a staircase from the Hills Parking Lot to the Social Quad. Sarah Michelson proposed the molding of a friendly landscape from the Hills Parking Lot to the Social Quad to prevent injury to students. Adam Lessler reflected on the potential contentiousness of Online/Timeless Registration because of the lack of contact with the faculty advisor that such a system would promote. It was suggested that the Senate seek to curb racial discrimination at the Fitness Center, specifically in terms of the greater likelihood that a minority student would be asked for identification. The Senate expressed interest in making room draw and theme housing fairer. Mr. Birnbaum said he would look into theme house shifting. It was suggested that SFC student activity fee increase be tied into inflation and/or tuition. Student Senators then volunteered to accept projects that interested them.
With no further business in front of the Student Senate Mr. Ruckman adjourned the meeting.