On Monday, Nov. 15, the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) held its eighth weekly meeting of the semester. Senators discussed policing at the college, presented Budgetary Committee (BC) requests, appointed committee members, and debated purchasing custom jackets for AAS members.
The meeting opened with a Center for Restorative Practices (CRP) presentation given by Fabio Ayala. Ayala explained that the CRP wants to connect with on-campus groups, like the AAS, to incorporate community-wide restorative philosophies and practices. He communicated that the goal of restorative justice is to shift away from forms of punitive judgement and toward harm rectification practices. Ayala emphasized that restorative justice is about the balance between supporting and holding rule-breakers accountable.
Ayala went on to discuss the purpose and format of restorative circles, harm and impact circles, and reparative circles — all of which intend to be alternatives to punitive forms of recourse. He also spoke about multi-partial mediation, which aims to trust and validate the multiple realities and truths that exist for different parties in a conflict, and shared that the CRP will be offering structured listening sessions for any interested individuals. Going forward, Ayala mentioned, the CRP plans to nationalize, internationalize, and interculturalize its work through interactive training and workshops for skill buildings.
After Ayala’s presentation, senators asked how students can get involved with the CRP and whether the CRP deals with Title IX cases. Ayala responded that the CRP encourages students to attend its events and is open to all community members, including faculty, staff, and alumni. He also said that the CRP only takes on cases that have not reached the level of a formal Title IX violation.
Next, Treasurer Jae Yun Ham ’22 spearheaded the approval of the BC’s requests. Among approved requests were funds for Mock Trial and Liyang. Ham stated that the BC would be hosting club budgets for the spring semester and requested to move money for that purpose. He said that he had assigned representatives to all clubs and that the outreach process would start after Thanksgiving. Ham also shared that the AAS currently has $372,000 in liquid cash on hand, and that the cash flow from student activities fees is $351,000.
President Angelina Han ’22 went on to perform the officer reports. She shared that she had met with the Five Colleges Student Coordinating Board where they discussed systems in place at other colleges that pay student government representatives. Han also spoke about improving the transparency of the Senate election process. She concluded by mentioning that a student government mixer/social event was being planned for next semester.
Senators then discussed the Campus Safety Survey sent out to students via email on Friday, Nov. 12. Specifically, Vice President Basma Azzamok ’22 said that the college is looking for the AAS to help increase engagement on their campus safety survey. Senators suggested ways that the survey can be improved so that students will actually fill it out.
Senators were also nominated and elected to serve on multiple new committees. Anna Leake ’23 nominated herself to serve on the Counseling Center Search Committee for Bilingual Staff Counselor. Dania Hallak ’24 was nominated and elected to the Appointments Board. Gent Malushaga ’25 was nominated and elected to the Committee on Education & Athletics.
The meeting concluded with a discussion of purchasing merchandise for senators and holding an AAS formal. Senators debated the ethics of purchasing jackets for themselves. While some thought that the effort would be a great promotional strategy, others thought that it was a needless expense. In the end, senators decided to continue their conversation at their next meeting.
The AAS will meet again after Thanksgiving break on Monday, Nov. 29.
Correction Notice: An earlier version of this article contained phrasing that might imply that the Five College Student Coordinating Board met with the intention to discuss paying AAS members. Rather, the board talked about how student government payment works at other schools as a preliminary conversation.