SA rejects vote on Nichol
February 8, 2008
__SIGN Act proposed to put question: “Do you believe Gene Nichol’s contract should be renewed” on March ballot__
p. The Student Assembly passed the Reject HB 118 Act and the Funding Interference Act during last Tuesday’s meeting and failed to override the veto of the SIGN Referendum Act by SA President Zach Pilchen ’09.
p. The Reject HB 118 Act, sponsored by Senator Walter McClean ’09, passed 16-1-0. According to the bill, it “encourages the Senate of the General Assembly as well as that body’s Committee on Education and Health to reject HB 118.” Section 22 of HB 118 requires that public colleges issue reports to the Virginia General Assembly regarding student activities. Some senators felt that this stipulation would infringe on the College’s sovereignty.
p. “The school would have to keep the state [apprised] of all its programming,” Pilchen said. “Any time politics gets involved with campus programming, it gets ugly.”
p. HB 118 has already been passed by the Virginia House of Delegates and is now in the Senate’s Education and Health Committee.
p. The Funding Interference Act, sponsored by McClean and Senate Chairman Matt Beato ’09, passed 15-0-1 and, “calls upon the College Administration and the Board of Visitors to reaffirm its support for student sovereignty in the allocation of student fees.”
p. The Bill is a reaction to Michael Powell’s recent comments addressing, “the need to develop a more coherent policy involving the allocation of limited College resources.”
p. Both bills address the issues that have come to light during the controversy over funding for the Feb. 4 Sex Workers’ Art Show. The SA is attempting to retain its independence regarding the funding of on-campus programs and events.
p. The veto override of the SIGN Referendum Act, sponsored by Senator Alex Kyrios ’09, failed with a vote of 10-9-0, less than the required three-fourths of the votes, and was the most hotly debated issue of the evening. The bill proposed to put the question: “Do you believe Gene Nichol’s contract should be renewed?” to a referendum vote during the March SA general election. Pilchen defended his veto by saying that the referendum oversimplifies the complicated issue.
p. “It’s too nuanced to say yes or no,” he said. “We don’t want to seem so immature to the Board of Visitors.”
p. “What I think is immature is to not make a decision,” Sen. Ray Ciabatonni ’10 responded. “It’s a tool for the BOV and it’s a tool for the campus.”
p. The main issue debated was whether or not a referendum would provide an accurate representation of the student body’s opinion. “I want the voices of students to actually carry, and the way you do that is take a poll or a referendum,” Beato said.
Sen. Matt Skibiak ’08 answered Beato by saying that a poll, rather than a referendum, would provide a more accurate representation of students’ opinions because only about half of students will vote in the general election. The previous SA General Election set a record with 60 percent of students voting.
p. McClean also presented seven new pieces of business, including a bill that criticizes the RIAA for using questionable means to target students accused of stealing music. The other bills presented ranged from protecting professors to installing web cams in high traffic areas on campus so students can check if an area is crowded.
p. For the third week in a row, Beato conducted updates on past and pending legislation, and Kyrios was not present to issue updates on three pieces of pending legislation. “Kyrios needs to pick up the slack,” Beato said after the meeting.
p. “[The] SA is proving to be a very draining source of my time and I don’t quite have time to follow up on everything,” Kyrios later responded. “I’m considering leaving the senate and will leave the directorship of Internal Affairs pending the confirmation of my successor.”