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Accountability, Introversion, and the AAS

redroom(Marie Lambert)– Up until about age five when I entered kindergarten, I had a habit of roaring at people when I first met them. Roaring—yes, like a lion—was my preferred form of communication over actual speech, which I found to be too terrifying to attempt with near-strangers (including my grandmother’s elderly friends). I was a shy kid, and while I obviously learned to master and appreciate meaningful communication and relationships, I still know that I’m an introvert at heart. An introvert who would have never believed you if two years ago you had told her that she would someday campaign for the opportunity to speak and debate with some of the most articulate and intelligent people at Amherst College.

I am still getting used to the idea of being a senator. For the newly elected first-years, their impressions and experiences of the college will be shaped by their position in the AAS. Their Amherst identities will grow around their roles as senators; it’s all they will know. But I have had two years already to cultivate my own identity, to chisel out a little niche complete with comforting labels to tell me who I am: an English major, a captain of the Mock Trial team, a rower, a writer who began with a pseudonym and has gradually had to take more and more ownership of my work.

My position as a senator is not antithetical to any of these aspects of my identity, but it does add a new dimension to all of them. It is in my role as a writer for ACVoice that I feel this the strongest. Like many shy kids, my first public writing was done anonymously on the Internet. This was back when the site was called and we all used witty pen names. Soon, however, the site began to evolve, and along with the proposed changes of a new name and layout, we decided to abandon our pseudonyms in favor of a more professional look. Although I saw the reasoning behind the shift from anonymity, I was initially terrified of attaching my name to my writing. With a name comes personification, ownership, responsibility. (John Procter knew what was up.)

This may be simply a side effect of the novelty of being on Senate, but I do feel a significant amount of responsibility—to the rest of the AAS, to my class, to the student body as a whole. It is no longer an option to not have an opinion, to sit in the back of class and never raise my hand (metaphorically, at least). Although I’d been to several Senate meetings before the election, sitting in the Red Room last Monday night created a new sense of intimidation knowing that now I had not just a voice (non-senators have the same speaking privileges as senators during meetings) but a vote that carries weight.

It bears reminding that the AAS stands for the “Association of Amherst Students,” a name I have always loved for its sense of universality, which unfortunately is not always present in connotations of the Senate. While it is certainly not the old boys’ club it used to be, I hope that with the influx of diversity will come an increased atmosphere of reliability. More than hoping, I want to help facilitate this goal in my roles as a senator, a journalist of sorts, and a student.

I welcome the responsibility and the sacrifice of my Monday nights, and honestly, I am so incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to give them up. Many sincere thanks to everyone who helped get me here—and even if you didn’t, or don’t even know who I am, I’m here for you too. So please, any time, don’t be afraid to say hello—I promise I won’t roar.

About Marie Lambert

Amherst's own Hazel Weatherfield, girl detective.

3 comments on “Accountability, Introversion, and the AAS

  1. Siraj Ahmed Sindhu
    October 7, 2013

    Great post! I liked the bit about roaring especially–it’s fantastic, bizarre imagery.

    It’s funny–I didn’t find the first meeting intimidating at all. It could be because I don’t know most of the older, more ingrained senators, and since I don’t know them, they can’t scare me. From my perspective, we’re all on equal footing now.

    Moreover, I’m an introvert myself (at least Myers-Briggs has told me repeatedly that I’m an INTJ) and I feel like Senate is a welcoming place, more welcoming than Amherst College as a whole, perhaps because it’s even more removed (an insular place within an insular place).

    It’s interesting that you think that for we newly elected first years, our identities will be molded by our roles as Senators. I feel like so much more than “just a Senator”; I can’t speak for the other 7 first year Senators, but I feel like the opportunities I’ll have on Senate will allow me to unfold as an individual, rather than stifling shut my personality and interests, and I suspect the others would agree.

    It is what you make of it. I hope Senate is everything you hope it will be; I’m sure we’ll have a great year. Thanks for the perspective.

    • marielambert15
      October 7, 2013

      Thanks for your comment, Siraj. I didn’t mean to imply that you and the other seven from the class of 2017 should/will view yourselves as “just senators”, or as senators first and foremost. Rather, I meant to convey that your positions as Senators will influence how you relate to the school already from the very beginning of your experiences here. Conversely, I am still trying to figure out how to reconcile my newfound role as a senator with the rest of my “Amherst identity.” However one comes into the Senate, I feel like our time there will for the most part make the Amherst experience even more fulfilling. I look forward to an exciting year with you and the rest of the AAS.

  2. Ali
    October 7, 2013

    One of my favorite Marie Lambert pieces yet (and I’ve read a lot of them).

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This entry was posted on October 7, 2013 by in Academic, Politics and tagged , , , , , .

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