Association of Amherst Students

Senate Meeting Minutes, February 27, 2006

As amended March 6, 2006 and March 13, 2006


Discussion with the Deans:


Bhala: Was attendance a problem in the old senate? Were there empty positions in the senate?

Lieber: To my knowledge the old senate did have a lot of problem with attendance. The much larger senate did have problems filling positions on committee seats. Some seats were more prestigious and therefore were filled much more quickly, but the less prestigious seats were hard to fill.

Haynes: I think a system of two year terms should be implemented to ensure that elections were not being run all the time for unfilled seats.

Das: I don’t think there is a lot of interest in the student body for these committee position, we are opening all the spots up for people who don’t want them.

Lieber: The activity of students outside of the senate on committees could be very influential, but it depends on the students you attract.

Haynes: Depending on the students attracted it could show a broader perspective in the Amherst community

Sirrell-Robins: One of our concerns was that committee elections would become a popularity contest, in which people are only voted for by name recognition. This would be different from senate elections because the voting process would be much more time-consuming and involved, with several committee descriptions to read and even more candidate statements to get through.

Lieber: In the past people running for a committee would have to submit a statement of intent to the Student pertaining to the positions that the individuals were running for.

Sirrell-Robins: The students running for positions are already writing have to write statements for the Student under the current system as well. How would the changes system be different?

Haynes: The students outside of the senate running for committee positions will be well versed in the committee that they are trying to become part of.

Sirrell-Robins: So you think that the quality of candidates would improve even if the students voting for them don’t know any [space] more about the elections than they do now?

Haynes: Potentially.

Sirrell-Robins: What will stop the senate from simply becoming the BC?

Lieber: I can’t tell in faculty committees if a student is representing the senate or simply their own opinions.

Sirrell-Robins: So it is unimportant if the students in the faculty committees are representing the senate or the general student body So students’ position as senators end up being irrelevant or unknown as it is on faculty committees?

Lieber: I have never heard a student say that they are representing the senate, explicitly. Most faculty members don’t know how a student became part of the committee.

Sirrell-Robins: Dean Haynes, can you speak more to the issue of will the senate just become the BC. the possibility of the Senate simply becoming the BC?

Haynes: I think the issue of the BC is very important because the senate’s presence on the BC will become overbearing and will shut a lot of students out of the process in which they come in the most contact with the senate. (I don’t remember his exact answer, but I don’t think this was it. I think it was more like “This is my biggest concern with the changes: the BC’s presence may become overbearing on the Senate if an even larger proportion of the Senate is also on the BC.”)

Rothschild: The numbers have changed in regards to how many senators will actually be on the BC. It will only be 7 out of 24, compared with 8 out of 32 now. It will still be less than a third.

Cobbs: Will the faculty take the senate’s presence in committees more seriously.

Lieber: I have never heard any student say, “I am representing the senate”.

Cobbs: Is the senate’s word seen more highly because we are not simply seen as a BC.

Lieber: In regards to the administration or the faculty?

Cobbs: Both

Lieber: The senators are seen more highly in the eyes of the administration because they know how it works unlike most of the faculty.

Benson: How are the faculty chosen to be a part of a committee.

Lieber: You have probably heard of the committee of six. They are the most responsible group.

Benson: Is the faculty assigned positions on the committees?

Lieber: For the most part, yes.

Janice: How will these at-large seats be filled? People don’t want them.

Haynes: You need to write in a procedure for the positions that are not filled, including publicity.

Silberstein: With TYPO it was very important that a lot of the positions were filled by senators do you know any other cases were senators were very influential on faculty committees.

Lieber; not in my memory

Haynes: Most of the students on my committees are active irrespective of if they are senators.


{Within the above conversation, an addition made March 6, 2006:


As claimed by Paul Nielsen 09:

Nielsen: Do you think decreasing the amount of senators will negatively affect student representation in the senate?


Both deans responded yes to this question.  (I don't remember their exact words)


End of addition}






Rania Arja



Rob Cobbs



Andrew Gehring



David Gottlieb



Caitlyn Phan



Jessica Rothschild



Mira Serrill-Robins



Emily Silberstein






Avi Das



Janice Djabatey



Andrea Gyorody



Charmel Maynard



Jordan McKay



Gloria Monfrini



Ashley Rose



Tim Zeiser






Patrick Benson



Adam Bookman



Daniel De Zeeuw



Michael Donovan



Julie Kim



Rohit Raj



Samantha Siegal



Josh Stein






Jacqueline De La Fuente



Anneliese Koehler



Paul Nielsen



Nicholas Pastan



Jelani Lundy-Harris



Michele Tran



Ayyappan Venkatraman



Shantel Watters






Mike Simmons



Noah Isserman



Richa Bhala



Kevin Nattinger



Austin Yim





I.  Call to Order: 9:53PM

II.  Officers Reports:

a.  Simmons: I will say my officers reports later

b.  Kevin: The judiciary council met yesterday to talk about two clubs. We will be recognizing badminton but not billiards.

c.  Yim: Later in the year I will be asking the senators to give reports on committee activity to be archived

III.  Committee reports

a.  Silberstein: The CAP will be meeting this week

b.  Das: I am discouraged that students have not responded to the call for honorary degree appointments

c.  Simmons: Two trustees have asked for students' responses to the CAP reports. If you have heard from your constituents please send me there comments

d.  De Zeeuw: College Council has been meeting to talk about the process of renovating the Socials and we are now discussing the lip-synch contest.

e.  Benson: The committee for choosing a new Athletic Director had a meeting last night with low turn out from the students.

IV.  Announcements:

a.  De Zeeuw: If you have any recommendation about the lip-synch contest come talk to me.

b.  Sirrell-Robins: there will be a magician Wednesday evening in the Front Room

V.  Special Orders

a.  BC Recommendations

  i.  Bhala: The only change is that Mock Trial was given money from the presidents office

1.  Donovan: We voted down $110 for the Harvard Business Conference, but we are giving $4000 for Mock Trial; I think this is setting a bad tone. What was the logic behind this decision?

a.  Benson: The logic behind it is that this is an achievement oriented trip that was earned by the participants. We were anticipating that the senate would see this number and come up with a more reasonable number. I defer to Stein.

b.  Stein: We are bringing up later an amendment to the discretionary funds by-laws.

2.  De Zeeuw: Can you explain why the College Literary Review got more than they asked for?

a.  Gyorody: We gave them more than what they asked for because they needed more money that they asked for and were not knowledgeable about this.

3.  De Zeeuw: How can you be sure that Mock Trial will seek other sources of money?

a.  Mock Trial Representative: We e-mailed exactly the people the BC told us to contact as soon as we got home.

  i.  Silberstein: Did you ask your participants for money?

  ii.  Mock Trial Representative: We calculated food, gas, and parking which equals about $68 per person.

  iii.  Bhala: The conference is at the school but you are staying at a hotel.

  iv.  Mock Trial Representative: yes

  v.  Simmons: Did you pay for registration?

  vi.  Mock Trial Representative: We had to pay in the beginning of the semester.

4.  Isserman: We move to debate with a motion to pass the BC Recommendations on the floor

5.  Stein: I seek to amend the BC Recommendations, subtracting the airfare and parking. We won’t even pay for bus fares for some clubs and parking, we never pay for parking.

a.  Mock Trial Representative: These are the cheapest tickets available on Expedia and we just found out that we were going on Monday.

b.  Simmons: Would you be opposed to paying for transport without the time constrictions?

c.  Stein: Yes

d.  Sirrell-Robins: We are trying to get away from precedent. This is a much longer trip one in which each person is already spending almost $100. Plus, they won something, they earned this money. They have shown commitment throughout the entire year not just this semester.

e.  Venkatraman: If we didn’t pay for airfare I don’t know what they would do. Precedent does not hold a lot o weight.

f.  De Zeeuw: Exceptions are everywhere this could be one. Even though this is only seven students they are representing Amherst.

g.  Bhala: A lot of groups qualify for competitions that we don’t fund.

h.  Arja: We didn’t fund the Frisbee trip because it was during Spring break and we considered it a trip not a competition.

i.  Das: This is a worthwhile event. We could knock $100 per head on airfare.

j.  Gloria: What do you do for people who cannot afford $100 a head?

  i.  Mock Trial Representative: We send an e-mail out asking people if they need assistance and no one said they did.

k.  Mock Trial Representative: We have been working hard preparing for this all year. We don’t have a coach unlike other schools. (It was Russell Kornblith)

l.  Mock Trial Representative 2: This is all the money we have needed all semester. (Caroline Stevenson)

m.  Simmons: I respect that students are asked for a contribution, but a lot of students cannot afford these events and won’t speak up.

n.  Silberstein: call

Hand Vote: Reducing Mock Trial Allocated Money: Failed

o.  Das: Motion to remove $1000 from air-fare. This is worthwhile, but we should try to get Dean Haynes to fund this cost. If we fund all of this money, Dean Haynes is under no obligation to give them any money.

p.  Silberstein: Dean Haynes is more knowledgeable about how much a week long trip should cost.

q.  Stein: Call

r.  Sirrell-Robins: Objects Object (no “s”)

s.  Mock Trial: We did find money from the President’s office and we could reallocate that money to cover the airfare.

t.  Sirrell-Robins: We cannot trick Dean Haynes in to giving them any money and it is insulting for us to try. We should not make Mock Trial jump through extra hoops.

u.  Cobbs: The interdisciplinary fund does not require the senate’s approval.

v.  Stein: call

w.  Benson: Object

x.  Das: Move

Voice Vote: Go directly to a vote: Approved

Hand Vote: Subtracting $1000 from airfare: Approved

y.  McKay: I want to make an amendment to the BC recommendations adding parking and tax to the Harvard Black Law Students Association Conference’s hotels.

z.  Das: Call

Voice Vote: Adding tax and parking: Approved

aa.  Gyorody: Motion to reduce the Pride Alliance by $10 for publicity. The table tents are already up and they chose to spend the money without confirming that they had it.

  i.  Sirrell-Robins: Can anyone explain why they did that? If there is a representative here with a good reason, we should consider it.

Voice Vote: Removing $10: Approved

bb.  Das: Call

Roll Call: Approve BC Recommendations: Approved

b.  Adhoc Van Policies

  i.  Yim: I have changed the van policy to conform to what we actually do. Is there anyone here who wants to form a committee on insuring that mistakes with the van don’t occur as often?

1.  De Zeeuw: Have there been consistent problems.

2.  Yim: Yes, The campus police always says the same thing and we always waiver.

3.  Silberstein: I think there have been serious problems.

4.  Arja: I don’t think we need a committee. You (Yim) know the problem best.

5.  Sirrell-Robins: Do you think we actually could get another van.?

6.  Yim: This is possible, but the process is very long. The college could buy a van or we could buy a van and they could pay for the insurance and gas.

7.  Bhala: We would never have to buy another van.

8.  Yim: All the departments have to put out their budgets by March 28th. Things need to get moving soon.

9.  Sirrell-Robins: If we could get the responses from club and organization chairs that always need the van and but can’t get it in order to show the voices of the students who actually need the vans, that might help our cause.

Senators volunteer to be a part of the van committee.

c.  Action in Darfur:

  i.  Sirrell-Robins: What is the purpose of this agenda resolution?

  ii.  Simmons: The point is publicity. The Francis Bok talk attracted 130 people and this would bring more attention to the issue. This is very important to the campus community. This resolution is not meant to force you to do anything, but to be an encouraging senate.

  iii.  Sirrell-Robins: I don’t know enough about this to tell anyone anything what they should be doing about the issue.

  iv.  Simmons: You said this about divestment, but a lot of people were educated.

  v.  De Zeeuw: This is more than a sentiment its urging people to do specific things.

  vi.  Simmons: This is resolving that we as a body think this is important and plausible.

  vii.  Stein: Everyone knows that Darfur is a horrible thing, but you are resolving people to be in an active war zone

  viii.  Pastan: Are these sites advocating people to go to Sudan?

  ix.  Simmons: Yes. I don’t know if people will be directly in harms way.

  x.  Rothschild: Can people go to Sudan?

  xi.  Pastan: Francis Bok said that there are safe environments in Sudan were people can go and help.

  xii.  Gyorody: I think by advocating this would seem hypocritical. I think you should forward this to Dean Hoffa.

  xiii.  Silberstein: I don’t feel comfortable encouraging this. What can we do by sending 100 white kids to the Sudan? I want to amend this resolution to include opportunities in America.

  xiv.  {Clarification and addition by Silberstein, added March 6, 2006: I know I said that Americans and Western NGOs don’t always have a great track record of work in Africa. I don’t think we are in a position to say if these particular groups will or will not do more harm then good. Right, I did say the white people comment (but if that magically disappeared from the record, it wouldn't hurt my feelings) If not, it was not just white people, but white people who probably know nothing about the situation.}

  xv.  Das: Call

  xvi.  De Zeeuw: Objects

  xvii.  Das: I think this is poorly thought out. I think we need a senate committee to go through this. This is not Gloria’s issue but rather one of President Simmons. I think we need a thorough review.

  xviii.  Cobbs: Motion to move this resolution to an Adhoc committee composed of who ever wants to be on the committee reporting back next week.

  xix.  Janice: Are there any guidelines to say what we can say as a resolution.

  xx.  Das: We can send it to the Student, but the senate resolution has no set guidelines.

  xxi.  Bookman: I don’t think there is a need for this Adhoc committee.

  xxii.  Stein: Call

  xxiii.  Silberstein: Objects

  xxiv.  Rose: Move

Voice Vote: Going directly to a vote: Division

Hand Vote: Approved

Voice Vote: To commit this to a committee: Approved

VI.  New Business

a.  Discussion on Senate Project

  i.  Rothschild: The Deans don’t think that this project will have a negative effect on the senate.

1.  Nielson: The Deans said that lessening the size of the senate is a bad thing, but increasing the at-large positions would help

2.  Das: The Deans said that this had the possibility of being a good thing, but had a real possibility of making things worse.

3.  Yim: Theoretically you could be president and be on three committees?

4.  Rothschild: Yes

5.  Yim: E-board and committee elections would be at the time?

6.  Rothschild: Yes

7.  Yim: What would be the responsibility of committee members who are not senators? Will they be forced to come to the senate meeting at the first of the month to present committee reports?

8.  Rothschild: We can’t force them to come to the first meeting because committees meet at different times. But, there will be some accountability.

9.  Sirrell-Robins: I think this is a good change that has a lot of potential and if it doesn’t work, in the worst-case scenario, we can go back.

10.  Gottlieb: This is not a pressing issue and we shouldn’t have to push this through now. This is too important to push through.

11.  Bhala: This is a constitutional amendment so it has to be put to student referendum and can only take place after a year.

12.  Gyorody: This is too important to push through.

13.  Das: We might need to call a special senate meeting. This is too important; we probably need to have an entire senate meeting about this. Motion to table.

b.  When will we have a special senate meeting:

  i.  Nattinger: In the constitution there is nothing about waiting one year.

  ii.  Bhala: How long does it take to make a referendum?

  iii.  Stein: 10 days

  iv.  Isserman: We can make this the first item of special orders next week. Charge Bhala inform club heads that they should come later in the meeting next week.

c.  By-law Amendment:

  i.  Stein: We have problems allocating money in the BC because we require money of people who might not be able to afford it. I propose that we allocate money based on need instead of evenly spreading the money.

1.  Sirrell-Robins: Will you require tax returns?

2.  Stein: It will be an act of good-will.

3.  Sirrell-Robins: I think, based on my work on getting booklists online before each semester, that The students who really need the money will be bashful embarrassed to make that need know, whereas were as those who can afford it will make a stink. Furthermore, I personally would feel uncomfortable telling people this information. This measure would be humiliating.

4.  Stein: I don’t mind people being uncomfortable instead of not being able to go.

5.  Sirrell-Robins: The student contribution is the important problem, not the money allocated by the senate. [Need to clarify: In figuring out whether or not a student will actually be able to attend a partially-AAS-funded event, the relevant information is what is NOT being funded by the AAS, i.e., whether THAT is over $100 or $X, rather than what IS being funded by the AAS.] I think this is too vague to vote on right now.

6.  Arja: I have a problem with the overarching idea. Telling a coach or a captain is an act of goodwill why do they need to sign a piece of paper.

7.  Isserman: can we get a fuller version from you Josh.

8.  Stein: Sure, if people agree to talk to me.

d.  Adhoc committee on school spirit

  i.  Bookman: Everyone who remembers being on the committee for school spirit meet after this meeting.


Adjourn: 12:20