SA Senators spar over pro-Nichol bill

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February 9, 2007

4:11 PM

Tempers flared near the end of Tuesday night’s Student Assembly meeting because senators tried to leave the meeting to prevent a vote on a bill to throw SA support behind President Gene Nichol, a resolution that eventually passed. In order to vote on a bill, at least 15 senators must be in attendance.

p. When Sen. Andrew Blasi, a freshman, said he needed to leave — which would have put the SA below its 15-senator minimum — Sen. Meghan McCarthy, a senior, stood in front of the door and requested that he stay.

p. “McCarthy wasn’t physically keeping them in the room — no one was,” SA Vice President Amanda Norris, a senior, said. Norris, who presides over the Senate, added that she waited until Blasi said he was staying in the room on his own accord before she allowed the meeting to continue.

p. The bill passed with one senator abstaining and two voting no: Blasi and Sen. Chair Joe Luppino-Esposito, a junior. Norris, along with several sources connected with the SA who wished to remain anonymous, said that they believe Luppino-Esposito was somehow involved in the attempted quorum bust, an allegation that both Blasi and Luppino-Esposito deny.

p. “I was accused of it, and the people who accused me have taken it back,” Luppino-Esposito said. “There was no conspiracy.”

p. Blasi said that he had e-mails proving that the people who made those allegations admitted they were wrong, but he refused to share them with The Flat Hat because he didn’t want to escalate the situation.

p. He also said that Norris threatened to personally tell Nichol that he wouldn’t support him, an allegation confirmed by Sen. Matt Skibiak, a junior.

p. Two issues presented earlier at the meeting concerned the conditions of the campus environment. The New Campus Improvement Act, presented by freshman Senators Scott Morris and Andrew Blasi, was passed by the Senate after considerable deliberation concerning the subject. In attendance and in support of the act were six students from the Dupont and Botetourt residencies who were given the opportunity to voice their opinions as the senators presented the act.

p. The New Campus Improvement Act concerns the ground area immediately surrounding Dupont Hall, the Botetourt Complex and Keck Lab, which often becomes muddy and accumulates standing water, especially during the winter months.

p. “The campus is awesome … then you have that heap of mud, which is just not attractive,” freshman Chase Hathaway said.

p. “It would be so much easier if we just had a sidewalk,” added Dupont resident, freshman Eric Rydin.

p. As indicated by the title, the new legislation will improve these areas on New Campus, making them safer as well as more aesthetically pleasing. It proposes the addition of paved pathways connecting Dupont to the Commons Dining Hall, and a paved asphalt street leading from Dupont to the Keck Lab.

p. Although the act has been met with some opposition from environmentalists on campus, it gained unanimous consent from Student Life.

p. “The environment is very important, but when kids are falling on their faces, it is just not safe,” Sen. Scott Morris, a freshman, said. The act plans for improvements to be underway by April.
Also in review Tuesday night was the proposed Wetlands Bill, discussed in detail by Student Assembly President Ryan Scofield, a senior. The Wetlands Bill, if enacted, would allot $900 to the Student Environmental Action Committee for the planting of flowers in the swamp behind the Student Health Center.

p. However, the bill was vetoed by Scofield, who says he sees the proposal as “not entirely viable and [thinks] the chance of it failing is very very high.”

p. Scofield said he does not support the Wetlands Bill “not because of a lack of effort, or a lack of desire” on the part of SEAC, but simply because of the variability of the weather and the risk of losing the money invested in planting flowers when “sometimes it rains; sometimes it snows.”

p. Finally, there is the concern that if the bill were passed, the planting of flowers would generate excessive pollen, which would increase allergens on campus.

p. Additionally, Scofield expressed anxiety regarding the distribution of Student Assembly funds to an interest group for purposes other than student activities.

p. Although SEAC is a student-run organization, it has already received funds from the Student Assembly for other projects this year, such as the installation of a compactor behind the Commons.

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