Student Government (AAS)

Senate Resolutions

Table of Contents

  1. Sense of the Senate Resolution on the Rules of Order
  2. Add-Drop Resolution
  3. Monday Timeslot Letter to the Faculty
  4. Proclamation of Appreciation to Valentine Dining Hall
  5. Statement Concerning Funding for Services Over Thanksgiving Break 
  6. Social Council Senior Sweatshirts
  7. Proposal to Enact the use of AC Dollars online by the end of Spring Semester
  8. Amherst College Divestment Resolution
  9. Resolution on Hate Speech and Campus Community
  10. Letter to President Martin concerning the Chief Students Affair Officer appointment

CONTENTS

Sense of the Senate Resolution on the Rules of Order

The following regulations are, by tradition, observed by the Senate.

  1. “Point of Personal Privilege” is often used even when the point at issue is truly a “Point of Privilege” or a “Point of Order.” This variation from Robert’s Rules of Order is not considered out of order.
  2. Short, out-of-turn responses to the member with the floor are usually permitted, but the holder of the floor may raise a “Point of Personal Privilege” or “Point of Order” if he or she feels the unrecognized responses are egregious. If debate is limited, time wasted on out-of-order comments is not counted against the speaker’s time. If one of the out-of-order remarks is a question to the speaker, and the speaker chooses to respond, the response shall be subject to the limits of the debate; however, the response shall not be considered against the time of the speaker’s main speech. For instance, if debate is limited to a minute per speaker, and a speaker is fifteen seconds into his or her speech when a question is asked, he or she then has a minute to respond to the question and forty-five seconds to continue the rest of his or her original speech.
  3. Generally, members take a dim view to moving or calling at the end of a speech. A call is technically an informal request to the Vice President, so, per Robert’s Rules of Order, it can be made at the end of a speech. A move (technically, a motion for the previous question) cannot be made if the member has given a speech, but the member may give a speech justifying the move if he or she limits the speech to arguing for moving per se.
  4. The AAS Constitution grants Senators the right to vote as they wish and the right to “voice” on any issue. If a modification to the rules of order violates one of these provisions, it is null and void. If necessary, the Judiciary Council may be called upon to settle disputes of this nature. For example, in the fall of 2009, these limitations forbade the Senate from banning clubs who are repeatedly absent from Budgetary Committee meetings from requesting funding at Senate meetings, since the Senate does not have the right to stop a Senator from proposing to fund the club and yielding his or her time to representatives of the club.
  5. The AAS Constitution grants members of the AAS (basically, current students) all participation rights in Senate meetings except the right to vote. Alumni who are former Senators are not members of the AAS and only have full debate participation rights if the Senate expressly grants said rights to them.
  6. The Senate may decide to “take an amendment as friendly” and accept it without a vote. At this point, the Vice President asks if any Senator objects to taking the amendment as friendly, and the floor is opened to responses. By tradition, the Senator who proposed the motion being debated is given the first chance to reject the amendment as friendly. However, if any other Senator objects to the amendment being taken as friendly, it must be put to a vote.

CONTENTS

Add-Drop Resolution

Resolved, whereas the shortening of the add/drop period in the Fall 2009 and Spring 2010 semesters has resulted in considerable difficulty in course selection (particularly for five-college courses and courses that meet only once a week), whereas this has resulted in numerous students being in courses they would not otherwise have taken, and whereas a full add/drop period is a critical part of the Open Curriculum and the belief that students should choose their own courses, a belief that is perhaps the most important part of Amherst’s liberal arts educational philosophy, the Association of Amherst Students strongly urges the Faculty to return the add/drop period to two weeks.

CONTENTS

Monday Timeslot Letter to the Faculty

The following is a letter to the faculty in response to a motion proposed by the Committee of Six to add a new 7:00-9:30 timeslot Monday nights.

To the Dean of the Faculty and the Professors of Amherst College,

We are writing on behalf of the Association of Amherst Students.  While we are not opposed in principle to the implementation of night classes, we would like to express our concern both over the substance of this proposal and the methods employed to arrive at it.  Specifically, we write to express concern regarding the selection of Monday as the appropriate day to hold night classes.

While we acknowledge that students were asked to complete a survey about their preference for hosting night classes on a certain day of the week, we are troubled that students were only presented with a choice between Sunday and Monday.  We urge the Faculty to send this proposal back to committee so that the full range of options may be considered both by the Faculty and the student body.

 Furthermore, the AAS would like to note that any decision of this committee to implement Monday night classes will put strain on several of the largest student organizations.  The Senate, Program Board and Social Council all meet on Monday nights.  We acknowledge that any night class will require student organizations to adjust their meeting times, but the nature of Senate, Program Board and Social Council is such that the magnitude of this change will have major ripple effects as most student-life organizations already structure their meeting times around these three student groups. 

It remains fully possible that Monday night is the best time to hold evening classes, but the reality is that the issue has not been fully explored.  We, therefore urge you to send the current proposition back to committee that we may first gather more student input and explore all options before binding ourselves to a decision that may prove less than ideal for the students of Amherst College.

Thank you very much,

The Association of Amherst Students

UPDATE:  The Committee of Six, after the Dean of Faculty's had received this letter, voted to recommend to the faculty that an amendment be brought forth modifying the motion to open a Sunday timeslot instead of a Monday timeslot.  The motion was not addressed at the May 3, 2011 faculty meeting because the meeting ran too long.

CONTENTS

Proclamation of Appreciation to Valentine Dining Hall

The following proclamation is in response to changes made in Valentine Dining Hall during the 2010-2011 academic year and the renovations completed the following summer:

Whereas, Valentine Dining Services undertook significant renovations based on student input that brighten, refresh and improve the dining experience for all Amherst students;

Whereas, the quality and selection of food choices have noticeably increased; and

Whereas, Valentine Dining Services has shown a sincere commitment to collect, consider and address all student input;  

Now, therefore, the Association of Amherst Students, on behalf of Amherst’s student body, commends and expresses appreciation to Valentine Dining Services and its entire staff and pledges support in future endeavors.

CONTENTS

Statement Concerning Funding for Services Over Thanksgiving Break

The AAS strongly encourages the administration to fund all events that occur over Thanksgiving break, including a Thanksgiving dinner open to all students remaining on campus.  The AAS believes that such an event is an essential college service, and not something within our purview of responsibility.  The AAS will not fund this event in the future.    

CONTENTS

Social Council Senior Sweatshirts

Resolved: The AAS strongly discourages future bodies of the Senate from allocating additional funds for Social Council’s Senior Sweatshirts from the operating budget. We encourage additional funding for next year’s Social Council budget out of master general, and increased transparency in their budget as well.

CONTENTS

Proposal to Enact the use of AC Dollars online by the end of Spring Semester

We the Student Body propose that the IT department and the Comptroller’s Office develop a service which will allow students and parents to deposit funds into AC Dollar accounts online. The need is greatest at the beginning of each semester, so we propose to have this in place long before the beginning of the fall semester 2013.

The current system requires a great deal of manual processing; it is outdated, inconvenient and inefficient. Student and parents can deposit funds into the AC dollar account in three ways: By mailing a check or cash to the college; by bringing a check or cash to one of three locations on campus (The comptroller’s office, Dining services or information Technology department) or by calling the “check-by-account” services. The use of these methods is highly unbalanced.  The Comptroller’s Office processes approximately 250 deposits per semester. The Information Technology processes approximately 150 transactions per semester, and Dining Services processes over 1000 transactions per semester.

The lack of online deposit option is thus a burden on the Dining services and the other offices that have to handle and coordinate the sizable number of cash and check transactions throughout each semester. It also puts the college at considerable and unnecessary risk by having various offices receive, process, and transfer large sums of money to the Comptroller.

As an additional benefit, this service would also allow students to check their AC Dollars balances online and to view their transaction history, neither of which are currently possible.

We would like to have the new AC Dollars system running by the summer so that the small population of Amherst students interning at the college can test and review it. This will help the IT department to perfect the system before the entire student body begins to use online AC dollars.

Thank you for your time and help.

Sincerely,

Hadassah Masudi Minga

Association of Amherst Students

CONTENTS

Amherst College Divestment Resolution

Whereas,

since 1895, average global temperatures have risen by more than 1.5
degrees Fahrenheit, and 80% of this increase has occurred since 1980;

Whereas,

human activity--primarily through the combustion of fossil fuels and
the release of greenhouse gas emissions--is responsible both for
observed global temperature rises and their associated effects on
climate;

Whereas,

this rapid temperature increase has exacerbated weather extremes including heat waves, drought, flooding, and sea level rise;

Whereas,

these extreme events have and will continue to negatively impact the
U.S. economy. In 2012, the US accounted for 67% of the $160bn lost
globally due to natural catastrophes;

Whereas,

projections for future warming based on various scenarios of fossil
fuel consumption vary between 2 degrees Fahrenheit and 10 degrees
Fahrenheit;

Whereas,

among the many fossil fuels in our global economy, coal has the highest carbon intensity relative to energy output;

Whereas,

coal mining and combustion have negative effects on human health due to the decline of both air and water quality;

Whereas,

these consequences disproportionately affect lower income and minority persons at home and abroad;

Whereas,

such concerns have prompted the imminent closure of the Mt. Tom coal plant in Holyoke;

Whereas,

the voluntary acquisition of financial stocks and holdings represent an
implicit support of a company and its industry, and it is within the
right of any stockholder to sell and purchase shares for reasons that
lie outside mere financial self-interest;

Whereas,

Amherst strives to be an institution of higher learning that imbues its students with a strong moral sense and that produces students capable of enacting positive change;

Whereas,

On April 18, 2013, 88.4% of Amherst students polled voted in favor of divesting from the coal industry;

Whereas,

The extraction and combustion of coal creates social problems of such magnitude as to be ethically insupportable;

Be it resolved by the Association of Amherst Students here assembled,

that this body supports complete financial divestment from the coal industry, including companies involved in the extraction and refinement of coal, and especially those performing mountaintop removal* and all members of the “Filthy fifteen” coal companies.

Be it further resolved,

that this body calls upon the trustees of Amherst College to avoid any and all future direct investments in the coal industry, and to request that external investment managers apply screens to our investments excluding these companies;

*This term refers to the practice of destroying mountaintops by detonating large amounts of explosives to extract coal.

CONTENTS

Resolution on Hate Speech and Campus Community

Whereas, on the evening of September 15, 2013, a swastika and racial epithet were found drawn near the entrance to Chapman dormitory;

Whereas, on September 16, 2013, an offensive note was found on a bulletin board in Waldorf which used a pejorative term often targeted at gay men;

Whereas, the Amherst College community, as with our broader culture and society, contains elements of bigotry and prejudice;

Whereas, our community purports to strive toward ideals of inclusion and compassion and is opposed to the sort of ugliness embodied by these acts of hate speech;

The Association of Amherst Students, here assembled:

  1. Condemns all acts of hate speech, whether targeted at members of our campus community or members of the broader community;
  2. Affirms the right of every student to a safe and non-discriminatory environment, as codified in the Student Handbook;
  3. Expresses appreciation to the Dean of Students for reporting on these instances of hate speech transparently and in an earnest manner;
  4. Resolves to take actions that make explicitly clear that acts of hate are incompatible with the values of the Amherst community.

CONTENTS

Letter to President Martin concerning the Chief Students Affair Officer appointment

President Martin:

We, the Association of Amherst Students (AAS), are writing to you to express grave concern over the recent departure of Dean of Students Jim Larimore, and more importantly, the hasty and unclear appointment of Suzanne Coffey to “Chief Student Affairs Officer.” This new position, which for reasons unexplained will last for two years, was created without any consultation with the student body and was filled by an administrator who has provoked controversy in the past. We believe that the student body deserves both an explanation and a role in the restructuring process. We request immediate action, including a timeline for a search that incorporates student input on this issue.

As approved by a majority of the AAS Senate on February 3, 2014.

CONTENTS