Dec 14, 2018
SAAC kicked off the Fall with its first meeting on September 23rd by welcoming its new members. To facilitate an atmosphere of respect and inclusion, all SAAC members introduced themselves to the group by stating their name, what pronouns they use and the team(s) they're a part of. Every SAAC representative chose what committee they'd like to be a part of, which this year are: Together We Are Amherst, Game Day, Green Athletics, SAAC Board, and Community Engagement.
In addition to its monthly meetings as a group, the SAAC executive board meets with Athletics Director Don Faulstick once a month along with Jen Hughes, the Head Coach of Women's Soccer and SAAC Advisor. At the September meeting with Don, the group discussed potential initiatives for SAAC this year, such as having more Pride Games to celebrate LGBTQ+ inclusivity and a community service initiative for all of athletics at Amherst.
On September 29th, Amherst's NESCAC SAAC Representative Bobby Shogren '19 and President Veronica Rocco '19, who is also a Tri-Chair of the Executive Board of the NESCAC SAAC, travelled to Tufts University to attend the biannual NESCAC SAAC meeting. At the meeting, the group discussed NCAA legislation, which this year included rules for social media use as a recruiting tool for coaches and a proposed change to soccer and field hockey preseason practices. The group also discussed issues common to all of the NESCAC institutions, such as fostering relationships with faculty, the gap between the general student body and student-athletes, and how institutional SAACs organize themselves. In anticipation of the upcoming NCAA Diversity and Inclusion Week, members wrote on a piece of paper the identities they hold to show that they are more than student-athletes. Members also took pictures with the OneTeam sign to promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity.
At the monthly SAAC meeting on October 14th, the group voted on this year's NCAA legislation, and everyone had an opportunity to discuss each piece of legislation and ask questions. Amherst's votes were sent to Annabelle Feist of Williams College, who is the NESCAC and NEWMAC representative for the Division III National SAAC. Hikaru Kozuma, the new Chief Student Affairs Officer, also attended the meeting and introduced himself to everyone at the meeting. The executive board did not have a meeting with Don in October due to scheduling conflicts.
At the November 2nd monthly meeting, the Presidents of Athletes and Allies, Sammy Salustri '19 from the Softball team and Megan Root '19 from the Women's Soccer team, came and facilitated a discussion about how to make athletics more inclusive for those who identify as LGBTQ+. They raised important points, such as using inclusive language that doesn't use gendered terms and to create spaces for teammates to be open with one another.
At the November meeting with Don, the group discussed the new Diversity & Inclusion Committee in the Athletics Department, as well as the Committee on Education in Athletics. Later in the month, Rocco, SAAC Vice-President Zach Bessette '19, Men's Hockey SAAC Representative Nick Faturos '19 and Cross Country and Track and Field Captain Kristian Sogaard '19 attended a meeting with the committee and spoke about their experiences as student-athletes at Amherst.
On December 3rd, SAAC met for its last meeting of 2018 to discuss changes to the Student Code of Conduct with Corey Michalos, the Director of Community Standards. The group broke into committees to talk about these changes and offer feedback to Corey that can be used in the future to make the policies better align with students' experiences.
At the final meeting with Don for the semester on December 7th, the executive board updated Don on our most recent meeting, and discussed the Athletic Department's mental health initiative which is planned to occur in the spring. The executive board along with SAAC will think of ideas over Interterm and bring feedback back to Don about what the department can do for its initiative.