Residential Life

Asian Culture House Constitution

The Purpose of the House

The Asian Culture House was founded in 1988 in order to provide a residential environment for students of all nationalities and cultures who have a sincere interest in Asian civilizations. The house seeks to enhance awareness of all aspects of Asian cultures on Amherst campus and offer residents of the House a chance to share and appreciate different cultural experiences on a personal level.  In addition to cultural experiences, the house will provide residents an opportunity to practice and learn various Asian languages.

It should also be noted that the ACH, unlike other theme houses, is not constituted around the pole of a single cultural interest—members interested in all cultures within the Asian continent are welcome and encouraged. This creates a unique and valuable aspect of life in the ACH. House residents should consider themselves part of a family, united by a spirit of dialogue and support.

The Officials of the House

I.   Role of the Asian Civilizations and Language Department

The Asian Culture House is governed by the Asian Civilizations and Language Department. The Chair of the Department will assign an advisor to the house whenever necessary. In addition, the head of the department will have to approve all changes to the Constitution.

II. Role of the Faculty Advisor

-        Serve as liaison between the department and the house.  Help members find funding and support for individual house projects.

-        Actively promote house events and attend house meetings or events whenever possible.

-        Review and approve all changes to the Constitution proposed by the house.

III. Role of the Resident Counselor (RC)

The RC is free from all requirements of an ACH House member.  However, the RC is expected to commit to these roles:

  1. To maintain communications with the physical plant, custodial staff, etc. to ensure that the physical aspects of the house are upheld.
  2. Establish a sense of community within the dorm by holding communal events.
  3. Promote ACH events to the rest of the dorm to further create a sense of community.
  4. Keep the house and dorm informed about relevant Amherst College residential life programs and assistance.
  5. Maintain communication with the ACH Official Board about the use and reservations of the ACH Common Room.

IV. Officers of the House

The house must always have at least three officers at all times.  Officers must be elected by the election process explained in the Constitution.  Officers may be dismissed from their positions by either majority vote of the house or expelled from the theme house.  House members who wish to dismiss an official member must contact the current faculty advisor to hold a meeting about their complaint. If the faculty advisor finds that the officer in question is not fulfilling their responsibilities as either a house member or officer, then the faculty advisor will give out a warning to the officer in question and allow a two-week probationary period for the officer to remedy the issues brought up.  If an officer is dismissed or resigns, a replacement will have to be voted upon by all the house members within two weeks of the officer’s resignation.  The election will follow the same protocol as all official elections within the house.

1.      President or Co-Presidents of the House

    1. Appropriates the floor meetings, presents, agendas, and opens floor to discussions.
    2. Maintains close contact with the faculty advisor, faculty members, ASLC department, administrators, and student organizations.
    3. Propose at least one major house event for each semester and take the leading role in organizing and publishing them.
    4. Ensure that all members propose and organize at least one event each semester in accordance to their responsibilities as a house member. Those members that do not fulfill their responsibilities as a member will be discussed with the faculty advisor about future membership.
    5. Work with the Events Coordinator and Treasurer to compile information for the annual house report and provide a copy of this report to the Office of Residential Life, the Head of the ASLC Department, and the faculty advisor.
    6. Attend and serve at all meetings convened by the Office of Residential Life.  If a president cannot attend for any reason, the president must delegate another House Officer to attend the meeting in their absence.
    7. Propose and organize community service projects for the house to attend.  In addition, create and offer opportunities for group activism both on and off campus.
    8. Organize and facilitate the election for new Official members.
    9. Observe and keep updates of the two voluntary committees.

2.      Events Coordinator of the House

    1. Maintain close contact with all members about their house event/project.
    2. Keep organized and concise records of all activities, events, or projects organized by house members.  In addition, record all house community service events and projects.
    3. Ensure that all members have completed their house event/project at the end of their term; and those members that have not should be reported to the president.
    4. Assist the president(s) in compiling information for the annual report.
    5. Publicize House events to the campus at large and ensuring that table tents, flyers and announcements are made.

3.      Treasurer of the House

    1. Handle all administrative aspects of house funds, such as: reimbursements, house account balance, purchase orders, supplemental funding, etc.
    2. Keep an organized file of all financial transactions within the house budget.
    3. Consult all members requiring financial guidance in regard to their organized events.
    4. Propose and organize possible fundraising events for all house members.
    5. Assist presidents in applying for supplemental funding for possible major house events.
    6. Assist president(s) in compiling information for the annual report.

At the end of the spring semester each year, a meeting will be held by the current ACH President(s) to elect new Official Members for the upcoming academic year.  The election procedure (explained below) will be exercised at the meeting to elect the new Official Board members and these members must receive a final acceptance by the current House Presidents.

V. Voluntary Committees

      There are two committees, Advisory and Language Night, within the house.  Both committees are available to all non-official house members.  These committees are voluntary and so they do not require an election process to join.  House members will be offered the choice of being in a committee on the same night as House elections. Members that join the committees are expected to hold their membership to the committee for one year.  If members leave the house due to study abroad, or personal reasons, a new member can be selected and join the committee at that time.  All members of the Advisory Committee are exempt from having to organize a campus-wide event; all members of the Language Night Committee are exempt from organizing any event since their responsibilities include events.

Admissions Committee:

The group may exceed no more than six members but have no less than three. If no one volunteers for the committee at the time of elections, the President(s) have the option of appointing the role to whomever they deem fit.

The purpose of the Admissions Committee:

  1. Review all applications to the house
  2. Interview prospective residents or members
  3. Discuss with the President(s) on deciding suitable members for the house
  4. Establish a list of pertinent questions that reflect the goals for the house for the upcoming academic year

Language Night Committee:

 The group may exceed no more than six members but have no less than three. If no one volunteers for the committee at the time of elections, the President(s) have the option of appointing the role to whomever they deem fit.

The purpose of Language Night Committee:

  1. Plan and host the House’s monthly Language Night
  2. Work with the Treasurer over the allocation of House funds to Language Night
  3. Work closely with the Asian Languages and Civilizations department to get funding for Language Night
  4. Work with the Events Coordinator to advertise Language Night

VI. Election Procedure

The election will be held only to elect members for the 3 different official positions.  The election procedure will be facilitated by the current President(s) of the house, unless the President(s) wish to be re-elected for an official position. In that case, any current House officials not running to be re-elected may facilitate the elections.  The election meeting will be announced as soon as new members are decided and must be held within two weeks of the new member roster being sent to Residential Life. 

During the announcement of the meeting, the president(s) must detail the responsibilities of all Official positions and encourage all members to consider running for a position.  All current and new members must attend the election meeting and participate. The only members that may not vote are the persons facilitating the election procedure. 

At the meeting the facilitator will announce each position (in this order: Treasurer, Events Coordinator, President/Co-Presidents) and record all nominations.  Members at the meeting may nominate another house member or themselves for any position.  If a member is nominated, they must be seconded by another house member to be added to the list of possible applicants, or decline the nomination if they do not wish to run for the position. 

Once all nominations are made for a position, each nominee will stand up and give a short (30 seconds - 1 minute) speech about their qualifications for the position. After speeches are given, the nominees for that position will exit the common room to allow for the house to discuss the nominees.  The discussion must not exceed 5 minutes.  Once the facilitator feels the discussion is finished, all members will be handed a piece of paper and instructed to write down the individual they wish to vote for and place it in the collection bin.  All members (excluding the position nominee(s) and the facilitator) must vote.

Once all the ballots are collected, the facilitator will bring back the nominees and begin voting on the next position until all of the positions are exhausted.  At that time, the meeting will be closed and the facilitator will count up the votes for each position. The nominee who wins the majority vote will take on the official position in the following year.  If there is a tie between nominees (with the exception of the President) then the facilitator will be allowed to vote for the nominee that he/she feels is more qualified for the position. 

If a current president wishes to continue their role for the following academic year, then they must be re-nominated and elected through majority vote.  If there are only 2 nominees for president then an addition poll will needed to be taken to decide if the house wishes to have both members as Co-Presidents.  This poll can be informal and students can simply raise their hand in favor or disfavor to the idea of both members being Co-Presidents.  If the poll is in favor, then both nominees will be elected as Co-Presidents.  If the poll is against Co-Presidents, then the house members will have to vote for a nominee they wish to have as President.  In this case, there will only be one (1) President for the following academic year.  If there are three (3) or more nominees then the house will vote for two (2) nominees that they wish to have as Co-Presidents.  The nominee(s) with the 2 highest amounts of votes (or just majority vote if the house wishes to only have one President) will be elected as (Co-)President(s).  If there is only one nominee for the presidential position, then that individual will be named President. 

If an elected Co-President would like to challenge the decisions of two presidents, then that individual should contact and consult with the current president(s) and the president(s) will make a final ruling.  Once all ballots are counted and the positions decided, the president(s) will send out an announcement of the elected positions to the current faculty advisor and all house members.  If there is any opposition to the elected individuals, then that individual must contact and consult with the current president.

Room Draw

Selection of rooms should take place one week after the roster for the following academic year is submitted. Members will select rooms according to two criteria: class seniority and prior experience living in the House. Selection is made first by those who have both class seniority and prior experience living in the House. Thus, juniors and sophomores that currently live in the House will choose rooms first. However, those with more living experience in the House will choose before those that have less living experience. This is to be followed by incoming juniors, sophomores, and freshmen that have not had prior living experience in the House. All members that have equal standing (same class and house seniority) will choose based on a lottery system.

At the Room Draw Meeting, members will be called in order of the list created to pick their rooms for the following academic year.  At the meeting there should be a floor plan present for all members to view.  Once the members have decided on their room, their choices should be recorded and submitted to Residential Life.

Residents of the House

I. Admission

All prospective residents must submit an application for admission to the House. Residence in the Asian Culture house is open to Amherst College students in their second, third and fourth years. First years, as a rule, are not allowed to live in the house. The only exception is the case in which the House has a room available and the first year has extenuating circumstances; in such a case, the first year must be applying for the spring semester.

New members to the Asian Culture House are expected to demonstrate at least four (4) of the following:

  1. Demonstrated interest in Asian cultures in the form of having previously taken, currently taking, or proven intention to take courses in the Asian Languages and Civilizations department (including language courses) and/or active participation in Asian culture groups on campus.
  2. Ability to fluently speak an Asian language
  3. Ability to contribute to ACH
  4. Willingness to learn
  5. Ability to interact with people so as to create a cohesive group
  6. Experience in ACH (i.e. attendance at House events)

As ACH is primarily a culture house and, as such, represents a wide range of interests and cultures, diversity within the house is of upmost importance. Diversity will be determined with the following factors:

  1. Representations from different areas of Asia
  2. Background (i.e. from Asia or have lived in Asia)
  3. Year of class
  4. Gender
  5. Language (i.e. fluently speaks an Asian language or learning one and which one)

All applicants to the house will be invited to be interviewed by current members of the house. These interviews are mandatory—failure to be interviewed will result in the applicant’s form being set aside until after all other applicants have been reviewed and notified of their residence status.

II. Re-admission Process

Current Residents

Current residents [with the exception of the president(s)] must submit a request to remain in the Asian Culture House to the current presidents. Re-admission for the following academic year will be determined by the president and the Officers of the House, with the exception of Officers of the House, who’s re-admission will be determined by the president and faculty advisor.

Previous Residents

For re-admission to the Asian Culture House, all eligible applicants must fill out a new application form for the following semester and be interviewed by members of the Officers of the House. Eligible applicants include: residents who are on medical/personal leave during the semester for which they applied; residents whose residence in the house has been interrupted by medical/personal leave during the semester. It should be noted that applicants applying for re-admission are not promised a spot in the house, nor will they necessarily be assigned to their old room. Acceptance will be determined using the same criteria used for new applicants.

III. Expectations of Members

House members will be evaluated based upon their abilities to fulfill the below responsibilities. House members agree to the evaluation process at time of application. In order for House members to understand their responsibilities, it is their right to obtain a copy of the constitution from the Chair of the House and gain it’s full understanding. Members are expected to behave by and act in according to the following:

  1. Participation in and organization of house activities. All House members are expected to offer input into the process of organizing events, both to ensure that their interests are represented and to share the weight of House duties. 
  2. Each House member is required to participate in the organization and presentation of one Tea Time, the House’s monthly event. This requirement can be done in groups of no more than three house members. The group will be responsible for the setting up and cleaning up. Also, the group is responsible for devising minor entertainment for the night. 
  3. Each House member is required to complete one house event per time period as a resident in the house (year-long residents complete one event during the academic year; semester-only residents complete one during the semester of residence), which embodies the purpose of the Asian Culture House aside from the participation in Tea Time. The organizational aspect of this requirement is to be completed by the middle of a given semester. This requirement can also be accomplished as a group of no more that three House members. 
  4. Any members taking an Asian foreign language or at native speaker competency in an Asian language must attend at least two (2) Language Nights per semester.
  5. Required to attend all House meetings. 
  6. Fostering a sense of community within the house and affirming the house as a safe space for the Asian community. 
  7. Respect for other House members (i.e. Peaceful resolution of conflicts, respect for the opinions of others, noise control, etc.). 
  8. Respect for house (i.e. Cleanliness, presentation, property). 

IV. Events

It should be remembered that the Asian Culture House is a Theme House, which means that the House as a whole is expected to spread awareness across campus. Members are all expected to contribute in the spreading of awareness through the organization of events. All members are expected to complete at least one (1) event during their stay in the house. Yearlong members must complete an event by spring semester; semester-only members must complete one before the end of the semester of their residence. Failure to do so will result in a permanent ban from the House for the rest of the student’s time at Amherst.

Acceptable events should fall under at least one (1) of the following categories.

1. Enhance awareness of all aspects of Asian cultures on Amherst campus. Events are to be prioritized in the following order:
          a. Educational events (e.g., lectures)
          b. Social events (e.g., parties)
2. Offer residents of the House a chance to share and appreciate different cultural experiences on a personal level.

3. Provide residents an opportunity to practice and learn Asian languages.

While events for house members are of critical importance with regards to the cohesiveness of the house, emphasis will be place upon events for the campus at large. Members will be allowed to hold resident-only events only after they have completed at least one campus-wide event. Campus wide events include but are not limited to:

  1. Lectures
  2. Slide shows
  3. Films
  4. Asian Kitchen
  5. Holiday celebrations
  6. Workshops (i.e.. Yoga, Tai Chi, acupuncture, and the related)
  7. Language nights

To make this requirement an easier one, it is suggested that members work in groups of no more than three people to accomplish this task.

Language Night

Language Night is the House’s way of offering a non-academic setting for students and native speakers of Asian languages to converse in their language of choice. It also offers non-house members the opportunity to learn more about the different Asian cultures through discussion. Organized by the Language Night Committee, Language Night is open to the campus at large and is to be held once every month, with the exception of December, January, and May. All attendees will be required to speak only in an Asian language of their choice, with minimal English being allowed.

Which languages are represented is up to the discretion of the Committee. However, it is expected that the languages offered at Amherst College (i.e. Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and any other Asian language in the future) will always have a place in Language Night.

Because of the nature of the event, the Committee is expected to receive most of their funding from the Asian Languages and Civilizations department for any food or snacks deemed appropriate for the event.

All House members studying an Asian language or able to fluently speak an Asian language are required to attend at least two (2) language nights per semester.

Tea Time


Tea Time is the House’s way of bringing the different members of ACH together to chat and relax. Held bi-weekly at a time agreeable to most members, all members are expected to work in groups of no more than three and host Tea Time at least once per semester. Members will sign up for slots in the common room once an agreeable time has been determined.

V. Mid-Year Review

Residents must complete a written evaluation of the Officers of the House. This evaluation will provide the Officers feedback on their general performance as the governing body of the house as well as provide suggestions for improvement. Evaluations will be sent out by the end of finals week of the fall semester and must be completed by the end of the second week of Interterm. All house residents are required to fill-out the Officers of the House evaluations before the due date. The house advisor will remove resident names before forwarding responses to the Officers to ensure anonymity.

VI. Expulsion of House Members

In an attempt to make the expulsion process a fair one, it will be handled by both the Officers of the House and the Faculty Advisor.

Reasons for Eviction

House residents who fail to fulfill their duties, as described above and as determined by the Officers of the House.

Probation Procedures

The Officers of the House will informally evaluate residents each semester. If an Officer finds a house resident to be lacking, he/she may recommend that the individual be put on probation. All requests to place members on probation must be seconded by at least one (1) other House Officer. At this point, the probation request must be presented before the Faculty Advisor for approval. Upon approval, the resident in question shall receive one formal written warning from the Faculty Advisor and be offered one probationary period of two weeks.

Expulsion Process

If the problems identified when the warning is issued are not resolved by the time the probationary period ends, the resident shall be dismissed from the House and will not be eligible to reapply to live in the House the following year.  The room of the dismissed resident shall be considered vacant and shall be reassigned according to the procedures described above.

Miscellaneous

I. ACH Common Room Usage

ACH encourages other student organizations to utilize the use of the common space inside the theme house.  All students interested in using the common space for meetings, activities, parties, etc. must contact the president(s) to get approval of usage for the space.  Requests should include date, time, and purpose of the activity.  If the president(s) approve the use of the common room, then the RC must be contacted about the reservation of the space.  In addition, activities held in the ACH common space should be open for all ACH members to attend, so once the common room is reserved an email should be sent out to all members of the house by the president(s) to encourage attendance at the event.

II. Party and Alcohol Policy

Non-ACH affiliated groups and House residents that would like to have parties in ACH must submit a request to House Presidents for approval, and sign a party contract, through the Office of Student Activities, agreeing to abide by the rules of the college. (See ACH Common Room Usage for more on common space reservation).

In the interest of maintaining the tradition of a dry house, all common spaces (Bathrooms, Halls, and Common Room) should remain alcohol free, except in the event of a function that is deemed appropriate by a majority vote. Parties that are deemed appropriate should be those where a house member assumes full responsibility for the event, and should refer to school policy regarding alcohol use. As a general rule, the all campus events will be dry, but if the organizers of the event believe an exception to be in order, they may petition the house, and the house members will decide together by a majority vote.

Amendments to the Constitution:

This constitution can be amended as necessary. Any member may propose to amend this constitution. An amendment proposed by a house member must be accepted by the president(s), faculty advisor, and head of ASLC department.  Once the amendment is reviewed and accepted, it will be recorded below and submitted to Residential Life.

Amendments of the Constitution should be typed in a word document clearly labeling which section it is amending.  This document should be emailed to the president(s) once it is completed for review.  The president(s) will inform the house member of the status of the amendment whenever available.  If an amendment is denied, the house member should be contact with the reason for denial.  If the amendment is accepted, then the president(s) should use their choice to either hold a meeting to discuss the change in the amendment or send out a house email of the change in the Constitution.

Ratification:

The Constitution was amended on February 18, 2012 by the ACH Presidents of 2011-2012.