Tom Gray called the meeting of the Student Senate to order at 9:10pm on November 1, 1999.
Tom welcome newly elected and appointed Student Senators. Josh Machao- President Class 2003, Allison Smith- Trustee Advisory Committee, Michael Flood-Library Committee
Tom next updated the senate on Valentine reforms. Valentine has doubled the number of guest passes effective very soon and they are looking at giving some credit at Schewems for missed me for items already served in valentine such as fountain drinks and bagels. Also, the myth that valentine costs 1000$ for an event is unfounded. It costs approximately 150$ for a valentine employee (working overtime) to be there for the event to make sure there aren’t any problem. This is contingent on the students involved in planning the event work to set up and break down the tables and chairs.
The Senate moved on to discuss and reevaluate the admission and athletic report. Tom began discussion by saying that we have run into a roadblock of no one caring and that is why nothing further has been done. He suggested that we could wait to react to the position that the faculty takes in its upcoming meeting and then hold a forum, we could play it by ear or we could have a forum now. A discussion followed:
Sarah Michelson expressed that something needs to be done because sure we are doing ok as long as the football team is winning.
Steve Vladeck commented that there is still an opportunity to look at long-term goals/issues even if the reaction has not been what we expected. The forum could be directed toward what our goals should be and how we want to achieve them
Ashley Ebersole responded that our action is most likely determined by how extreme a course of action taken by the faculty is. A mission statement would be useful but we really need to wait until we see what faculty says. They may say cut the number of teams and then there would be some reaction
Brian Orach commented that if people received this as not a big deal then the rupture was not as big as we anticipated. Amherst is more whole then we feared and we shouldn’t force the issue and create divisions that don’t exist. (Kristin Johnson concurred)
Steve V. added that he is still concerned based on conversation he has had with some faculty members. He fears people are starting to separate football from rest of the athletic structure and this might create friction.
Amy Summerville said that she spoke with faculty as well and the issue is more about the general type of the Amherst Student. From what she gathers the faculty is split on this issue as well.
Eldar Brodski expressed concern that he senate do something. We shouldn’t just follow the opinion of faculty but rather we should have our own opinion and statement.
Steve Vladeck retorted that our point would be much stronger taking if we take into focus on what faculty says even if it is a rebuttal. We are talking about what direct action we should take. This doesn’t necessarily effect the mission statement
Josh Fischel suggested that the senate could we invite Tom Parker to SGO meeting to discuss some of these issues further as the faculty has done for their next meeting
Eric Budish asked Tom whether the senate could make his claim that no one cares more concrete and that it might be especially interesting to find out what the first years have to say. Tom responded that he had this type of conversation with freshmen some time ago during the election process. Eric continued that still this is a pretty big thing to say and that perhaps between now and next meeting something should be done to slightly better survey student body.
Brian O. concurred saying that the time he felt most concerned about issues was his freshmen year. He further expressed that he felt as though someone who was really interested in this issue would prefer a forum type experience then just circling yes or no on a survey.
Amy S. expressed concern that we are backing away from drafting a mission statement. Tome responded that this was definitely not the case and he apologized if he had misled the senate in his discussion of this issue.
Will Johnson commented that the freshman class has more important things to worry about such as adjusting to Amherst in general. He felt that maybe next semester this issue would come up again. Tom agreed with Will
Steve V explained that another reason things have quieted because there has been somewhat of a shift in focus because of other big changes in athletic programs such as the division three automatic bid rule changes. He feels that there are bigger fish to fry now.
Gena Hatcher commented that if we want this to evolve this into mission statement then the decision we should make here is about the slant on how we want to think about the mission statement. We shouldn’t just draft the statement out of admissions and we should solicit other people’s sentiments. Tom responded that admissions is correlated because its gets us thinking about who we are and who we want to be.
Allison Smith remarked about how the number of responses to a given survey should show how many people are really interested in this. Steve Ruckman concurred and suggested a forum would have the same effect or perhaps the two together would indicate campus sentiments. …
Tom asked whether this forum is better used before or after faculty makes its decision or offers its comments.
Brian O. suggested that the faculty has to vote on our mission statement so we probably should wait so as not to annoy them beforehand.
Tom concluded the discussion by saying that these seems to be the best medium for our once a semester forum with president Gerety. He said a survey of the student body will be conducted via email.
In the next item of business, Eldar Brodski proposed a resolution to improve certain aspects of freshman housing
The proposal included adding 3 dryers and washers to valentine; adding a microwave and refrigerator to all freshmen dorms; adding awnings over the entrances to the dorms; making sure there are soda machines and snack machines as currently there are none in Appleton.
Kristin J asked why the senate should be concerned solely about freshman dorms when there are few snack machines in other dorms and many dorms have limited numbers of washers and dryers.
Steve V. commented that we needed to distinguish between safety-based improvements and comfort based improvements. He expressed his dislike for the idea of giving freshmen amenities in disproportion to other dorms.
Brian O commented that he lived in Valentine and one washer was not a huge problem and in fact more couldn’t be installed because of the feasibility of air circulation, space etc. He felt the resolution should not be one where we are squandering our integrity and whining about all things at Amherst.
The general consensus was that we request every dorm have at least two washers or dryers or a certain number per the number of students.
The conversation continued. Ben Armour asked whether more card swiping devices could be installed. Steve R responded that such devices are not cost effective unless there are a certain number of people in the dorm i.e. the houses are too small.
George asked whether we could mandate that they change the price of soda back to 75cents. Tom suggested he write a letter to Steve of Steve’s Snacks.
Brian O reiterated that any suggestions on our part should be based on per capita statistics about the dorms. A soda machine for three people does not make sense. Tom added that these numbers could easily be attained by talking to Stan Adams and Chari Boykin-East and perhaps Eldar should obtain these numbers and redraft his resolution based on them.
Ned B. Friend commented that awnings are probably pretty cheap and are a safety issue. Along those lines he suggested the age-old debate about soap and towels in the freshmen bathrooms. He also added that the coed freshmen bathrooms aren’t really coed as they still have urinals and no tampon dispensers like other dorms.
Steve V commented that part of freshman year is dealing with poor conditions but he agreed that per capita analysis would make sense
Gena H. suggested that maybe this discussion could be discussed further with the Student Life Committee
Josh Fischel commented that he did not like Steve’s statement about the freshmen being spoiled but would not comment further because the second part of Steve’s statement made more sense.
Brain added that freshman year is very important and we want to sell Amherst to freshman and should not seek to things harder on them.
The next agenda item was Steve Ruckman’s resolution to place trashcans around the social dorm quad to hopefully alleviate the post Saturday party mess.
A motion was made and seconded to accept the resolution. The motion passed unanimously.
The Senate then moved on to discuss the LBGT Pride Banner Destruction.
Eldar began the discussion by explaining how a rally had taken place earlier in the day, regarding this issue, in front of valentine. He reported that the rally’s organizer said to him that she was really surprised that so few representatives from the SGO showed up.
Tom continued that they had asked us to issue statement condemning what took place and encourage people to come forward with information about what happened.
Ashley E. commented that this occurred homecoming weekend and it could have been anyone and not necessarily current Amherst student(s)
Steve V. added that it is hard to take action when we don’t know all the information
Steve R. responded that we can condemn it anyway and issue a statement.
Sarah M. reported that she attended and Dean Lieber spoke at rally saying that the administration is going to be involved with LBGTA and QSA to confront homophobia
Tom said we could solicit input and put together something condemning this or we can say what we want as a Senate.
The conversation moved to discuss more generally the SGO’s role in campus rallies.
Ned B-F. commented how there have been three rallies recently and the SGO hasn’t really had a presence at any of them.
Tom responded by saying that the former SPC discussed this at length about regarding the affirmative action rallies and sit ins at UMASS. It was determined that an official SGO presence was a compromise of our role of unbiased representation. As individuals SGO members can do as they wish.
Kristin J. suggested that there is an obvious right and wrong with this issue and the SGO should be there because this really isn’t a matter of opinion.
Brian O. questioned whether the senate is a political or constitutional body and that we shouldn’t assume that all SGO members consent to political action
Tom added that we can’t say the SGO supports a given course of action if we find out at the last minute (like in this instance) about a campus issue. We can offer our support but we need a consensus in opinion to express a side.
Ashley E. reiterated that this issue is different from a political issue such as Affirmative Action.
Steve V suggested that the senate go about this in a case by case scenario. The senate should get the word out that we need to know about these things ahead of time and not just on a spur of the moment if a given club or organization wants our support.
Ned B-F asked why we have to depend on organizations to come to us. The senate should take a stand itself.
Gena H. reminded everyone that senate members have access to the senators email addresses and that if people know something is going on they can send out an email and see what other people think.
Eldar will draft a statement condemning the pride banner destruction and he will send it via email to the senate for comment.
Next, Eldar updated the senate about his progress regarding changing social life at Amherst. He said he has been meeting with SoCo and is trying to add events.
Some of the ideas thus far are having a consistent Friday night event. He is not sure what it will be, perhaps it might be wine and cheese and dancing. They are also trying to have a non-tap event on Saturday nights as well
Sarah M. questioned whether hadn’t our goal been to add less events involving alcohol Eldar responded that whether people decide to drink or not is up to them. People who want to drink would just come drunk anyway so making it dry wouldn’t make much of a difference. Tom added that wine and cheese presents a much different atmosphere.
Eldar continued by saying that different theme houses would be asked to hold these events.
Kristin J asked how this would work budget wise. Eldar responded that this part hasn’t been worked out yet but it does not seem to be that expensive perhaps another 600 dollars a week. A number of senators expressed that this sounded to them like a lot of money.
Eldar retorted that if we cut out not well-attended events such as Sunday night movies on the campus center quad we could allocate this money to bigger drawing events.
Sarah M. expressed concern about competing with theme houses parties on Friday nights
Eldar clarified that the idea of all this would be to give the theme house money to throw a party under heading of weekly SoCo events.
Kathy Klein commented that if our goal it to add variety then adding this type party every Friday night is not going to add variety. She suggested that maybe the money would be better spent on unique events. We don’t want it to be the same scene each week.
Eldar responded that currently there is a lot of variety offered in social events and that people would rather go and dance then go see Amherst squares or whatever else.
Kathy retorted that varying the theme doesn’t do it. We have 80’s tap and we have prince tap but in reality they are still TAP
Tom interjected that finally SoCo is being productive and working with us and we shouldn’t over look that. He suggested that perhaps faculty recitals would be a good idea.
George added that it is not a problem to incorporate theme parties but it is a problem when a group like La Causa throws a fund raising party. This could not be done under these headings.
Eric B. said he liked the notion of the theme houses throwing all campus events. It would institutionalize a way of having theme houses do things that are open to entire campus and it would improve relationships between the houses and the rest of the campus
Amy S. reiterated that drinking is illegal and alcohol in the title (wine and cheese) of one of these events will alienate people and another alcohol centered event defeats the purpose of changing Amherst social life.
Steve R responded that the point is that Amherst has lot of variety but it doesn’t have it at other times then the peak times. Thus these events occur within a regularized context and the idea would be to have variety within that context. If we do it during the main times it wouldn’t be limiting as long as students recognize that different things are going that are not TAP.
Liam Fleming added that we could plan tap and theme house events so that they are close to one another so that there is intermingling amongst different groups of people and so people can go back and forth. I.E. TAP in Mayo and another event in Newport
Kristin J added that people have to be somewhat self-starting. The TAP houses help to plan the party and TAP isn’t just the SoCo decorations or the DJ.