Senate buys newspapers, lodges protest with GA

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February 6, 2009

1:17 AM

The Student Assembly senate approved a bill Tuesday that will bring The New York Times, USA Today, and the Daily Press to students campus-wide.

The Collegiate Readership Act, sponsored by Sens. Michael Douglass ’11 and Ryan Eickel ’10, will make the College of William and Mary the program host for a trial period beginning Feb. 24. The program offers universities free access to a selection of daily newspapers for a short trial period, and the success of the program at the College will be judged at a referendum on March 26.

The bill received a generally favorable response from the senate. However, Sen. Brittany Fallon ’11 expressed concern that the SA would be obligated to pay for the full program, noting that the representative from the National Collegiate Readership Program said, “If the results [of the referendum] were positive, you were kind of expected to sign a contract.”

Douglass responded that the SA would not be required to adopt the program, though the SA should be responsive to student opinion.

“If this passes, I expect the senate to carry out the will of the student body,” Douglass said.

The bill passed 20-1-0, with Fallon dissenting.

The senate also considered the Opposition to Decreasing the Quality of the College Act, sponsored by Sen. Matt Beato ’09 and 10 other senators.

The bill is a reaction to recent legislation in the Virginia General Assembly that would raise the required percentage of in-state students at Virginia public universities — in particular, the bill proposed by Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax)which would set the level at 80 percent.

Beato observed the passage of the bill in the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and stated that the bill was carried by a partisan vote.

“All the Republicans were quite supportive of the bill, and the Democrats were quite against it,” he said. “I would not be shocked if Delegate Albo’s bill did pass the House, which I don’t think would be a very good thing.”

Sen. Steven Nelson ’10 was particularly enthusiastic in his support, noting that he “had actually wanted to do a bill before this stupid effort by the GA came out.” This bill would have recommended decreasing the percentage of in-state students at the College. Noting that the acceptance rate for in-state students is roughly double that of out-of-state students, Nelson argued that Albo’s legislation would “water down the quality of the students here and make us the next JMU.”

Pinsker added that an increase in the percentage of in-state students from 68 percent to 75 percent would cost the College about $7.5 million. Sen. Walter McClean ’09 expressed some concern that senate opinion may not reflect the opinion of the student body because the senate is disproportionately compromised out-of-state students — 13 of the 16 undergraduate senators are not from Virginia.

Beato responded that referenda are often prone to bias and that a referendum would not be feasible in this case.

The bill passed 20-1-0, with Sen. Brian Gemino M.B.A. ’10 dissenting.

The Know Your Rights Act 2.5, sponsored by McClean, Nelson and Ben Brown ’11, was also considered. The bill appropriates $584 to fund the purchase of 6,000 “Know Your Rights in a Residence Hall/Know Your Rights in a Police Encounter” plastic wallet cards.

The bill was approved by unanimous consent.

The Tuesday SA meeting also saw a senate reshuffle, as Sen. Ben Battaglia ’12 announced his resignation in order to join a campus a cappella group, The Gentlemen of the College

Freshman Class President Kobie Gordon ’12 appointed Jill Olszewski ’12, who has worked closely with the SA executive and senate. She will serve the remainder of Battaglia’s term.

Andrew Gardner ’12 and Beato were also nominated to the Elections Commission.

Gardner was nominated because he would “bring a fresh face to the Elections Commission,” SA Vice President

Kristin Slawter ’09 said. Beato, who has served on the Elections Commission three times previously, explained that he wishes to use this further opportunity to document many of the technical details of the elections process.

Both nominees were approved unanimously.

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