Senate fails to override Pilchen’s veto on Speech Act

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January 27, 2008

8:43 PM

p. The Student Assembly passed the Closing of the Gun Show Loophole Act and the Student Input on the Gene Nichol Referendum Act during Tuesday’s first session of the spring semester.

p. There was also a failed attempt to override the veto of the Protect the Freedom of Speech Act by SA President Zach Pilchen ’09 veto of the Protect the Freedom of Speech Act and the presentation of two pieces of new business. Senate Chairman Matt Beato ’09 was not in attendance because of his position on the Colonial District Soil and Water Conservation Board; Senator Joe Luppino-Esposito ’08 served as interim chairman.

p. The Closing of the Gun Show Loophole Act, sponsored by Sens. Devan Barber ’08, Michael Douglass ’11 and Brittany Fallon ’11, encourages the state of Virginia to pass legislation prohibiting the sale of guns at gun shows without a prior background check and was passed 15-0-1. The Virginia House already voted down such legislation prior to the SA passing the bill and the Virginia Senate voted the bill down Wednesday morning.

p. The Student Input on the Gene Nichol Referendum Act, sponsored by Alex Kyrios ’09, proposed to put the question, “Do you believe Gene Nichol’s contract should be renewed?” to a referendum vote during the March general election and was passed 15-0-1.

p. Senators debated whether the referendum would incite more controversy regarding the College’s president or give an accurate picture of the student body’s opinion towards him.
“No matter what the college will be torn apart by controversy,” Douglass said. “The students should have a chance to be heard.”
SA Vice President Valerie Hopkins ’09 also raised the question of whether such a referendum is the responsibility of the SA.
“Yes, this is our job to put [a] referendum to the students about anything we see fit,” Kyrios replied.

p. Doulgass’ motion to override Pilchen’s veto of the Protect the Freedom of Speech Act failed 10-7, falling short of the required three-fourths of the vote. The bill was passed by the senate during the fall semester and discouraged students from taking more than one copy of a free publication.

p. It also proposed placing signs in the University Center entrance to deter such behavior. Pilchen was on hand to defend his veto and cited part of the bill as irrelevant because the SA does not have the authority to direct the Honor Council, Judicial Council, or Campus Police with regards to trial or investigation of students who steal or destroy publications. Pilchen also referred to the placing of signs in the UC as “patronizing.”

p. Senators debated whether signs informing students that it was illegal to take more than one copy of a registered publication would be considered didactic or informative, and whether these thefts are still a relevant problem.

p. “I pretty much think it’s a dead issue,” Sen. Walter McClean ’09 said. “I really think this is something we can just drop.”
The two pieces of new business presented were the Steer Clear Re-establishment Act sponsored by Sen. Sarah Rojas ’10, and the Heath Ledger Condolence Act sponsored by Kyrios. The Steer Clear Re-establishment Act allocates $1,842 from the consolidated reserve to William Healy ’09 to recreate the Steer Clear program.

p. The program was previously run by fraternities and sororities, but suffered from a lack of volunteer drivers; the new program will pay drivers $8 an hour. The bill proposes that Steer Clear now run on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 9:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. and, if passed at next week’s SA meeting, it would begin operating on Feb. 1. The Heath Ledger Condolence Act honors the passing of the young actor.

p. Finance Secretary Andrew Blasi ’10 also gave an update of the SA’s finances, reporting that so far the SA has spent an average of $5,700 per month out of the consolidated reserve which is under the budgeted amount of $8,125 per month.

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