AAS SENATE MINUTES: Monday 10/7/02 9 PM, Converse Hall Cole Assembly Room

8th Meeting of the ’02-’03 AAS Senate

 

I. Call to Order (9:08 PM)

II. Attendance

Julie, Ben, Mike, Jesse, Will, Stacy, Ally, (Allen)

Kay, Mihailis, Jay, Lincoln, Eric, Luke, Geoff

Angie, Maria, Christian, Niti, Paige, Ryan

Sameer, Caleb, Andre, John, Ian, Matt, Techo

III. Announcements (9:10)

A. E-Branch

1.  Welcome to Our 7 New First-Year Class Councilors; Runoff Wednesday

Bob: Runoff on Wed. There was a tie. Introduction of the first year senators.

Caleb: IT department make some changes

Sameer: Fix the jukebox in the campus center.

Andre: The simple candidate. Keep the government simple.

John: Work with student groups and funding. I race recumbent bike.

Ian: Hope to work together and unite.

Matt: I am from the Sterns, and I came to Amherst.

2.  Outcome of Valentine Tabling (9:15)

Alex: Valentine table on Friday. Did gain constructive comment. Holiday decoration. A raffle to get people to come to meetings. Hire accountant for financial system. Unbiased polls at Valentine. AAS party. Another Valentine table.

Stacy: POI, why unbiased.

Alex: Didn’t want people randomly offering opinions while voting.

B. Senate

Jesse: Glad that there is discussion among the student body about the art destruction. The Senate ratified it as a whole, so stick behind what you voted for.

Ally: Concerning campus vandalism, spoke to Dean Boykin-East, for the senate to take it on as a bigger issue. Why the students would treat the campus in this way? A possible long term project. Should we take it on, or give to some other department?

Luke: POI, will address that in new business.

Ben: Publicize the run off.

Lincoln: All students can take part in TYPO.

IV. Minutes of the Previous Meeting 9:20

Bob: Basquez must be spelled Vazquez.

Approved

V. Report of the President 9:21

Dave: Excited about the new freshmen senate. The senators should have weekly dinner or lunch at the bottom floor of Valentine. A place for people to converse and formulate ideas and proposals. Would like to have one next Friday. Start tabling monthly, and elicit their ideas and support, outside of the daily interactions. As for the Trustee meetings, we have been discussing the Scarab Society, and trying for a faculty approval. As of right now, groups can come to the AAS but go to the various departments. Hopefully, the college council will be able to create and solidify this interdepartmental fund where departments can direct the students there. Investigation of the honor code. We need your help in research. The trustee advisory committee is working on prevention of vandalism. The committee meetings are beginning to take place so come and talk about the issues. Dr. Morgan of the health services is here to elicit help and support.

Dr. Morgan: Here to introduce myself, and would love your ideas. Hope that you will let me know.

Alex: The Trustee Committee. We are meeting with the trustees on the Oct 18th. Will discuss honor code and dorm damage and fines and costs and other things necessary, laundry and cars, etc. and the new AAS format. The similarities and differences, glitches and other workings of the student government. Trying to get the technology department to come and speak.

Jesse: No senate meeting next Monday. The Thursday night after break is the annual pizza dinner with Trustees, 9-10:30.

Ally: Also discussed some sort of review of the career center.

 

VI. Report of the Vice-President 9:29

Bob: Attendance policy, same as before. Three unexcused absence is automatic removal. I can give 0-3 excuses. Submit agenda to me by Friday. It is sent to everyone on AAS within 48 hours. Transition to constitution has been rather smooth. Budgets were completed earlier than ever. Thanks to Liv and the budgetary committee. Secondly, we are using Robert’s rule is working well. We will hear from the Judiciary Council soon. WE need to fill some committee positions, and bring in the diversity senators as well as clean out the constitution of some glitches. Finally, I would like to thank the Senate. The meetings have been running really well, so thank you. Last year, we had only met twice by this time. Bring class council project to meeting ASAP.

 

VII. Report of the Judiciary Council Chair 9:33 (See Below)

Jun: Would like to delay report.

 

VIII. Report of the Treasurer 9:34 (ask for some figures and dates)

Livia: The dates for budget process,

Budgets Due: November 8th at 5PM
Budgetary Committee: (closed meeting) November 10, 5PM-?
Budgetary Committee: November 12 and 13, 6PM-10PM to enter information. Theoretically, open door.
AAS meeting regarding the Spring 2003 budgets: November 18th, 8PM-?
Appeals: November 20 and 21, 7PM-12AM

The senate will have entire weekend to look at budget. Will address it line by line. The freshmen are asked to join the committee. I am working on the figures for audit. Will be an article in the newspaper, that talks about the logistics of the audit, but not numerical.

 

IX. Special Orders

A.  BC Funding Recommendations 9:41

Programming: Women's Rugby--$2000

(total now: $24,738.20)
In the years past, coaches didn’t have contract. But this year, we require contract. But we found the contract lowered the cost of the coach.

 

Discretionary: Gospel Choir--$400 for dry cleaning very expensive robes, Ballroom--$325 for an event in November, QUAC--$130 for posters

(total now: $20,753.60)

 

Julie: Motion to pass recommendations 9:42

Lincoln: call to question 9:42

Bob: Roll call 9:43 (ask bob for votes)

Julie Y

Ben Y

Ro Y

Mike Y

Jesse Y

Will Y

Stacey Y

Ali Y

 

Kay Y

Mihailis Y

Jay Y

Lincoln Y

Eric Y

Luke Y

Geoff Y

 

Angie Y

Maria Y

Ryan Y

Christian Y

Niti Y

Paige Y

 

Sameer Y

Caleb Y

Andre Y

Techo Y

John Y

Ian Y

Matt Y

 

28 yays, 0 nays, 0 abstentions. BC funding recommendations passed.

 

 

VIII.  Report of the Treasurer 9:46

Jun: Let all clubs know that they need to go through review and recognition. Or they will not receive funding. Half of the clubs on campus have not signed up for review and recognition.

 

A)  Presentation by the Judiciary Committee on the findings concerning complaints filed by Senator Ben Baum on 9/28/02. See Appendix.

Shaun: Report submitted.

 

IX. (Special orders) B. Committee Vacancies 10:00

Bob: Will delay some committees until next meeting, because not all 1st year elected.

Stacy: I appointed Will and Julie for honorary Degrees Committee.

Ben: We should vote into position some that are urgent, such as the IT committee. But save the rest of the positions until all 8 have the option of running, such as the College Council.

Bob: IT Policy- Dr. Fitz needs members. It does not show up in the constitution because his email was regrettably forgotten. It is open to all senators. One for one year, one for two years. In the future, both for two years and staggered. Anyone interested? Caleb.

Caleb: One year.

Bob: Anyone for two year? Matt. Caleb for one. Matt for two years, contingent on being reelected to stay on committee. Next the Budgetary committee. We need one more.

Stacy: Object to electing BC right now, because not the entire freshmen council elected.

Livia: By Nov 8th, it leaves me one weekend to bring in a new member. We have one meeting, that can last from 9 PM on Sunday. The BC is in charge of allocating budget and recommending this to the Senate. $250,000 granted to us, and it is up to us to distribute it fairly and appropriately and make recommendations to the Senate.

Shaun: Point of order, Judiciary Council should be elected first.

Luke: There is an order. Judiciary is first.

Jun: Do either want to switch in light of this new info that JC can’t serve two committees.

Ben: Freshmen senator not required to serve on committee.

Bob: JC then BC

Jun: Need to know a lot about the constitution. We are compiling a list of recommendations. We also do review and recognition of clubs who get funding. We also rule whenever a formal complaint is made. We are the third branch of the government separate from E and the Senate.

Bob: Must be nominated and the elected for JC.

Geoff: Nominate Andre Deckrow

Andre: Accepted

Matt: Nominate John Lian

John: Declined

Bob: Voice vote. 10:07

Andre elected.

We are to elect one more member. Nominations again.

John: Nominate Ian Shin

Bob: Voice vote. 10:08

Ian elected.

Ben: Two positions on the Elections committee. And the library committee needs another member. We will wait until the rest is elected.

 

X. New Business 10:09

A.  Guest Speaker (Dr. Warren Morgan, Health Services) 9:25

B.  Massachusetts Youth Vote 10:10

Luke: A campaign worked on by MassPirg and also by Democrats and Republicans. The students should vote, and registered and voting. That is the campaign. Asking for endorsement of the campaign.

Andre: Does this encouraging out of state?

Luke: A national program but encouraging students to register at home, but can register here if not active at home.

Lincoln: Commend on doing this. Remain non-partisan. Motion to pass language 10:12

Bob: Voice vote. 10:12

Motion Passed 10:12

C.  Vandalism Resolution 10:13

Luke: Respect for college property. There is a rise in dorm damage and vandalism. These problems can be solved. The Committee of Six is faculty committee that is the top. Should the drinking policy be changed? Three possible solutions: 1) Current policy is not fixed, there will be some change in policy. 2) It will be influenced by faculty. 3) Stronger disciplinary measure. Student based disciplinary code, within students. Take up this discussion where the solution is placed on us. We should discuss whether we want to further discussion, and there is a rise in alarming behavior.

Ally: 1) A subcommittee devoted to discussing these issues with various parts of the campus.

2) A town meeting, on a general theme of destructive behavior at Amherst. Bring people all together.

Andre: You can do both.

Eric: If we do pass a honor code

Stacy: Motion to create an ad hoc research committee on social behavior, and research other schools, soliciting input from relevant bodies and coordinating with other part of school, and ultimately presenting it to the student body, possibly creating an all-campus forum. 10:19

Mike: Due to lack of community. A friendly amendment to build community. 10:20

Ally: I support Mike, and I think honor code is a good possibility, but not move directly towards an honor code. Moment to discuss a deeply seeded problem, and find out why this is happening. Thus have some public forum.

Eric: Against this. College council does not want to do it. Keep it within the council.

Bob: Calling attention to time.

Stacy: Want to have this committee, not to pass honor code, but get members of this body to get involved in discussion. Should coordinate with the College council but it is coming from our initiative. Honor code holds students to their peers, and creates transparency. This is more an investigation than anything else.

Ben: It should come from students to begin with. Honor code is within the student body. It’s a contract between all the students. It’s appropriate.

Mike: I don’t think the purpose of this committee is not to pass honor code, but some sort of student involvement.

Luke: Would it be possible to cast it in terms of looking for problems. It will probably get to honor code, and it leaves the call much more open. We should be responding to the problems. Agree with discussing with college council. Request to amend it, ad hoc committee to find problems and find solutions.

Stacy: a discussion of honor code is a discussion of underlying issues.

Will: Support Stacy’s motion. This is a student problem. Its an issue of respect.

Caleb: What would be the honor code be?

Stacy: that’s what the committee would address. And appoint a committee no fewer than 3 members.

Mike: Call to question 10:27

Stacey: Motion to create ad hoc exploratory committee community building, research disciplinary policy, and student based disciplinary code/ honor code, of no fewer than four senators. Charged with investigating current community, current disciplinary policy, and researching honor codes at peer institutions.

Luke: Would it be friendly amendment to say, in light of recent events?

Bob: Will vote to create this committee or not. 10:30

Ian: Motion to table until language is laid out. 10:31

Ally: We are meeting with the trustees this week….

Stacy: Do not want to withdraw motion.

Julie: Didn’t we already call to question?

Eric: No one objected when first question called.

Bob: Voice vote.

Passes.

For future reference, submit long motions in writing.

Will like to take a straw vote, on Nov 18th we need to have a longer meeting from 8PM, then call a special meeting, concerning the BC recommendations. To meet an hour ealier than we normally do.

Angie: About letter of condemnation. Many don’t like it. It is too harsh and personal. I agree with them as well. Making a suggestion to tone down the language.

Niti: I would have objected as well. I hope you passed it because you supported it, and consider the opinions of other students.

Jay: I would like to charge the E to bring the applications of diversity senates.

Bob: Done.

Jay: Junior council to stay behind.

Mike: There is Valentine committee, so suggest that AAS get on it.

Stacy: Can we return to motion, because we passed the motion. Make Appointments.

 

Eric

Luke

Stacy

Kay

Mike

Mihailis

Ian

Angie

Maria

Niti Nominated and accepted.

 

XI. Adjournment

Mike: Motion to adjourn. 10:34

Bob: Passed

 

 

Appedix

 

In regards to the 28 September 2002 complaint filed by Senator Benjamin Baum ’03, the Judiciary Council of the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) finds the following:

 

This matter questions the manner in which diversity groups on campus apply for, and are recognized as receiving, Diversity Seats on the AAS Senate. In the complaint filed by Senator Baum, Baum declaims “a decision made by the Executive Branch regarding its sole authority, in the creation of Diversity Senate seats.” With his argument, Baum framed an argument that hinged on two constitutional points.

 

One of Baum’s points mistakenly interpreted part of the language of Article V, Section B, which says “for example, the AAS may recognize the following communities” to mean “the [entire] AAS, not solely the Executive Branch, is responsible for recognizing diversity seat applications,” according to his written complaint. That is a faulty interpretation, because for the entirety of the AAS to recognize a diversity seat it would require a vote by the entirety of the AAS – that is, the approximately 1,700 students at Amherst College. This is dysfunctional and counter to the principles of a representative democracy such as the AAS. The AAS is comprised by three separate branches of government that are outlined in the Constitution, which split power to act on behalf of the entire AAS – the students of Amherst College. Part of this power is the creation of Diversity Senate seats. The crux of this complaint, therefore, is to determine which branch or branches have such constitutional authority to grant Diversity Senate seats.

 

As Baum rightly argued in his complaint, there are two sections in the AAS Constitution that discuss this issue.

 

First, one might consider Article 5, Section B, which states, “Communities comprised of one or more campus groups may apply to the Executive Branch for recognition and for a Diversity Senate seat if they feel their community’s voice has been silenced.” That statement clearly shows the Executive Branch of the AS playing a role – in fact, the initial role – in the creation of Diversity Senate seats.

 

Yet, the Executive Branch does not play the only constitutional role in the recognition of Diversity Senate seats. When considering this issue, one must also take into consideration Article 1, Section B, Clause 2, the portion of the Constitution that elaborates on the composition of the AAS Senate. According to this clause, part of the composition of the Senate shall be “Diversity Senators as recognized by the Senate.”

 

In that clause there is a crucial word: “recognized,” a form of the world used in 5.B. – “recognition.” If this Constitution is to be read as a cohesive document, then it is necessary to give repeated words the same definition. To do otherwise would be to view the Constitution as a dysfunctional arrangement of words with no final end in mind, rather than as a carefully crafted document. As a carefully crafted document, “recognition” is not used lightly, and must have the same meaning in both contexts: to decide to formally acknowledge a particular group. Thus, it is the responsibility of both the Executive Branch and the Senate to recognize Diversity Senators. Implied in this dual use of “recognition” – in reference to both the Executive Branch and Senate – is an obvious intent that both groups must “recognize” a specific community before it can have a Diversity Senate seat and therefore be part of the composition of the Senate as stated in I.B.2.

 

Stemming form that need for dual approval of Diversity Senate seats is the question of how the two branches should work together procedurally to provide the recognition of appropriate Diversity Senate seats as required constitutionally of each branch. Article V, Section B helps to clarify this matter, as it states that communities must apply to the Executive Branch “for recognition and a Diversity Senate seat …” Hence, communities that feel they meet the constitutional requirements for a Diversity Senate seat must file an application to the Executive Branch. Implied in the act of receiving an application is also the act of eventually judging the application. Therefore, upon receiving an application from a community, the Executive Branch must then grant (if appropriate) permission for a seat since it is the Executive Branch to whom the community applied for “recognition and a Diversity Senate seat.”

 

However, that is only the first step in a two-part process. After a community applies to the Executive Branch, and that application is granted, the community must then appeal to the Senate for final recognition of their diversity seat before it officially becomes a part of the Senate, since the Senate only consists of class senators and “Diversity Senators as recognized by the Senate” according to I.B. – not “Diversity Senators as recognized by the Executive Branch.” At this point, the Senate must vote on whether or not to recognize the seat that had been approved by the E-board. Since no language on such a recognition process exists in the Constitution, it is assumed that the default required for approval on most issues – a simple majority – is required for recognition. But, like any other issue voted upon by the Senate, the President may veto such a Senate decision for recognition, in which case the Senate shall be required to garner a 2/3 majority in order to overturn the veto (as is allowed in VII.B.5.).

 

This two-step process is important, as it provides the Senate a check on Executive power by allowing the Senate to strike down Executive recommendations for a Diversity Seat. Clearly, such a check is consistent with the goals of the Constitution as, according to the section of the Constitution entitled “Composition of the Association of Amherst Students” it is stated “While these [three branches of the AAS are] unique in function, they shall also serve to keep a check on one another, to maintain balance of power and a collective Student voice, and to ensure a fair and efficient AAS.” A two-tiered process of approval allows the branches to keep a check on one another as well as a maintain a balance of power.

 

In preponderance of these facts, the Judiciary Council rules in favor of the Senate of the Association of Amherst Students (an implicit party to this case via a 1 October 2002 ruling of the Judiciary Council) and accepts the complaint made by Senator Benjamin Baum as valid.

 

Therefore, the Judiciary Council also declares unconstitutional all Diversity Senate seats granted by the Executive Board of the AAS before the issuance of this ruling. Those communities to whom the Executive Board granted seats do not currently hold Diversity Senate seats on the Senate of the AAS. Instead, they have only completed the first step of the two-tiered process discussed above. All communities that have been recognized by the Executive Board for Diversity Senate seats must now appear before the Senate for recognition before the formally hold a Diversity Senate seat. These appeals for recognition can be made at a regular meeting of the Senate on a date to be determined by the Vice President of the Association as, constitutionally, he holds the power to set the agenda of the Senate (VII.C.2.). The Judiciary Council strongly encourages the Vice President to accomplish such in a timely manner.

 

After careful deliberation on this complaint, the Judiciary Council asserts that the current Constitution does not clearly define the specific procedural role of either the Executive Board or the Senate in regards to the recognition of Diversity Senate seats. This Council’s current ruling is the best way to clarify the ambiguity while still reading the Constitution in a cohesive, singular manner. The Judiciary Council strongly recommends that the Senate of the AAS draft a referendum to be sent to the student body that would amend the Constitution of the Association of Amherst Students to better articulate the process by which Diversity Senate seats are recognized and added to the body of the Senate. Until such a time, however, the procedure outlined in this decision will be the procedure this Association shall use for the recognition of Diversity Senate seats.

 

 

 

Submitted to the Association of Amherst Students on Monday, 7 October 2002 by Acting Chair of the Judiciary Council Shaun Michael Filiault on behalf of the Judiciary Council

 

 

Signed:

Shaun Michael Filiault, Acting Chair of the Judiciary Council

David A Babbott, Temporary Member of the Judiciary Council

Vivek P. Lakhi, Member of the Judiciary Council

Allison P. Rung, Temporary Member of the Judiciary Council

 

Jaffire Perroti, Member of the Judiciary Council was unavailable to sign the final draft of this decision.