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Activities of the Student Advisory Committee
By Daria D'Arienzo and Ute Brandes
For the Student Advisory Committee to the Friends, 2003-2004 was a time of reinvigoration—indeed, a fresh start. Daria D'Arienzo and Ute Brandes, professor of German, continued to serve as advisors to the group; all six members were new: from the Class of 2005, Elizabeth Galoozis, Eunee Park, Diana Cappiello, and Sandy Alvarez; and from the Class of 2006, Andre Deckrow and Alexandra Hadley. William Miglore, Class of 2006, the winner of the Frederick S. Lane '36 Prize for Excellence in Book Collecting, joined in April, 2004. This was a small but mighty group. They brought fresh ideas and worked enthusiastically on their chosen projects. Since all the members will return for the 2004-2005 year, there will be continuity and a record high committee membership.
In October the SAC wrote their annual solicitation letter, which was sent to fellow students to encourage membership in the Friends. Following the successful example of the 2002 letter, this year's letter was simple and straightforward. It focused on the activities, supported by the Friends, that help make every student's Library experience special. These SAC members want to be part of an organization that includes students, faculty, alumni, alumnae, and friends of the College. They told their fellow students that being a member was a unique experience at Amherst which rewarded them with many opportunities not otherwise available.
Building on the work of last year's SAC, Andre Deckrow '06 took an active role guiding the revived and updated Senior Class Cane Project. This revival is based on the 19th-century College tradition in which each class created a cane, or walking stick, with a uniform design; the canes were used by classes as soon as they became sophomores. The students carried their canes for ceremonial and other occasions (see the 2002-2003 Friends Newsletter for more details about the revival of this tradition). The new Senior Class Cane is given as a parting gift to all graduating seniors during commencement ceremonies. The canes were very popular among the 2003 graduates, the first group to receive canes. This year SAC members selected a dark wood derby-style cane made by Mountain Properties. They worked in the Archives and Special Collections to design a Class of 2004 plaque for the cane based on an 1895 program for the Glee, Banjo, and Mandolin Clubs.
Once again, New England Etching Company of Holyoke created the oval brass plaque that was attached to every cane. Working with Michael Kiefer in Advancement, the College was able to secure funds from an anonymous donor for purchasing the canes and the accompanying plaques. The Friends provided the accompanying letterpress card (originally designed by John Lancaster, Curator of Special Collections) that tells the history and importance of this tradition and is distributed with every cane. Friends Chairman Sam Ellenport once again arranged for the card to be printed by Scott Vile at the Ascensius Press. The anonymous donor, the Office of Alumni and Parent Programs, and the Friends of the Library all made this possible. The canes were distributed to the seniors at the College's 183rd commencement on May 23, 2004. Honorary degree recipients and distinguished honorees who were part of the ceremony also received a cane.
During the spring semester the SAC put together a film series about writers and writing. This new program grew out of the SAC's desire to invite the campus community into Frost and to showcase the Library's extensive video and DVD collection. The series was called "Trials and Tribulations," and it included the recent films "The Hours," "American Splendor," "Sylvia," "Shakespeare in Love," and "Adaptation." The films were shown on Thursday nights in the Barker Room. One of the films was attended by a prospective student and her father, who were both enthusiastic about the series and interested in the group that sponsored it. Eunee Park '05 both publicized (electronically on The Daily Jolt and with clever bookmarks and table tents in the dining hall) and showed the films. John Kunhardt, Media Coordinator, helped procure the rights to show them, and Daria D'Arienzo provided refreshments and coordinated the program.
The next successful project was our Poetry for the Millionth Volume. On behalf of the SAC, Elizabeth Galoozis '05 sent a letter to students early in the spring semester asking for submissions to a planned volume of poetry to be published in conjunction with the Library events celebrating the Millionth Volume. Fifteen students responded with original poems, which were then published in a volume designed by John Lancaster with an introduction by Daria D'Arienzo. The volume was well received and made a lasting memento of the festivities.
The SAC invited writer Chris Bohjalian '82 to speak with interested students next fall. The author of, most recently, Idyll Banter, The Buffalo Soldier, Trans-Sister Radio, Water Witches, andMidwives>, as well as numerous magazine articles, Bohjalian is very interested in supporting young writers and has begun to deposit his own literary papers in the Archives and Special Collections. He was delighted to be asked to visit the College and will speak informally with the students in October. SAC member Elizabeth Galoozis '05 was active in extending this invitation.
The SAC chose not to present the annual thesis panel discussion in April 2004. They wanted instead to assess the traditional approach to the panel, look carefully at the kinds of nitty-gritty questions the students had for previous panels, and to present a rejuvenated version in 2005.
Finally, at the request of the student member of the search committee for a new Librarian of the College, the members of the SAC participated in interviews with the candidates for that position.
The SAC already has plans for the fall. They welcome comments and suggestions from fellow Friends, students, alumni and alumnae, and are looking for new ways to strengthen on-campus student participation in the Friends. SAC members have found their association with the Friends enriching and want to share the experience with others.