A funding request from the Veterans Society received reluctant support from the senate at the Student Assembly senate meeting last Tuesday, Oct. 7.
The Veterans Society initially requested $3,750 for an event to be held on Veterans Day, Nov. 9. The Society plans to hold a day-long paintball tournament in the Sunken Garden, featuring various teams from student organizations as well as fraternities and sororities.
SA Vice President Kristin Slawter ’09 and several senators voiced doubts about the appropriateness of the activity for the occasion, questioning whether a paintball tournament would truly be the best way to memorialize Veterans Day.
Veterans Society spokesman Lance Zaal and a representative from the company providing equipment and supervision presented an overview of the Veterans Day activities, which include bands and guest speakers. Zaal emphasized that the paintball tournament was not the purpose of the event.
“The main purpose of this is to attract people,” he told the senate. The wider event would include booths from the campus’s various cultural and ethnic organizations.
“We want to show that Veterans Day does not belong to one ethnic group, one racial group,” Zaal said.
Zaal expressed his intention to repay as much of the money as possible to the SA after covering the costs of the event.
The reception from the senate was mixed.
“Do you think that this is going to be offensive, given that it’s Veterans Day?” Slawter asked. “And I don’t know if we should be honoring people’s sacrifice by shooting stuff at each other … I find it mildly ironic and slightly offensive.”
Senator Steven Nelson ’10 also voiced doubts, noting that he paintballs for fun at home.
“I do it for fun, but the whole thing is that you enjoy shooting people and inflicting pain on other people,” he said. “I kind of feel like this is just glorifying violence and it’s tying it to a Veterans Day celebration where we’re respecting people who served. … I think it kind of defeats the purpose of honoring service where you’re almost simulating it and enjoying it.”
Zaal, himself a veteran, responded that the Veterans Society holds a more solemn event on Memorial Day in the spring, reserving Veterans Day for a general celebration.
“Nobody else in the Veterans Society thinks it’s offensive,” he said.
The senate ultimately voted to allocate $3,000, which Zaal revised down from the original request, by a vote of 14-4-2.
According to Virginia state policy, the SA is not allowed to deny funding to groups or events based on ideological or moral reasons.
The senate also considered the Flu Vaccine Funding Act, sponsored by Sen. Caroline Mullis ’09.
The act would allocate $1,000 to the Student Health Center for a $10 discount to be granted to the first 100 students to receive flu vaccinations.
Mullis noted that 358 students received vaccines last year, a low figure that she believes the bill will improve.
The senate responded positively to the idea but questioned the exact amount allocated; many senators advocated raising the sum.
The bill was returned to committee to be reviewed before the health center begins administering vaccinations. The health center has not announced when it will begin offering shots.
The Police-Student Relations Improvement Act, sponsored by Nelson and Sen. Michael Douglass ’11, was also considered by the senate last Tuesday.
The act, addressing student concerns for questionable police behavior, calls for the establishment of a website with information on individual police officers through the SA website. The act passed unanimously.
In other business, the senate considered the Timely Repayment Act, sponsored by Sen. Walter McClean ’09.
The bill calls for repaying Sen. Brittney Fallon ’11 $579.91 in out-of-pocket costs that went toward funding the What Can Your SA Do for You event while the SA off-campus account was frozen. The act passed unanimously.
The Know Your Rights Act II, sponsored by McClean, Nelson and Sen. Ben Brown ’11 and Nelson was also introduced last week.
The bill allocates $1,116 for the purchase and distribution of 6,000 “Know Your Rights in a Residence Hall” and 6,000 “Know Your Rights in a Police Encounter” educational cards, which will be distributed to students via CSU boxes.
The bill is intended to improve student awareness of their rights to prevent unnecessary self-incrimination.