Student Assembly passes bill to provide flu shots
September 11, 2009
The Student Assembly senate allocated $6,000 Tuesday to provide free flu shots to 300 students. The Seasonal Flu Prevention Act, sponsored by Sens. Imad Matini ’11 and Stef Felitto ’12, built upon legislation passed last fall that provided 100 free and 200 partially subsidized flu shots on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The flu shots provided by this new initiative will be fully subsidized by the SA. The bill, introduced late in the SA’s marathon three-hour session, was lightly debated by a visibly fatigued senate and passed 15-1. Sen. Brittany Fallon ’11 offered the lone dissenting vote.
Debate over the Honor Council/Student Conduct Council Know Your Rights Act, sponsored by Sens. Ben Brown ’11 and Felitto, consumed the largest part of the evening.
The bill would allocate $600 for the purchase of 6,000 “Know Your Rights” cards, which summarize some of the student rights detailed in the Student Handbook.
Honor council member Will Perkins ’11 briefly addressed the senate, discussing the purpose of the cards and the process behind their creation.
“These cards serve no other purpose than to distribute information to the College community,” he said, noting that the student conduct manual is no longer distributed to the entire student body. “This card can help explain to the honest William and Mary student what his or her options are.”
Perkins explained that the Honor Council refused to downplay any aspects of the code that would appear on the cards, despite some Honor Council members pushing for removal of content that would lead to lax enforcement of the code.
“We believe in student rights and therefore agree to include all explanatory information on this card,” he said.
The bill faced a mixed reception from the senate. Many senators expressed concern about the wording and layout used on the cards. Sen. Jill Olzewski ’12 noted that the bolding of specific words and phrases on the cards seemed unbalanced and that, in her experience, “Know Your Rights” cards have not been very well-received.
“I hate the fact that ‘tell the professor’ is highlighted and ‘may’ is not,” Olzewski said.
“I personally know no one who has ever used [a “Know Your Rights” card],” she said.
Sen. Steven Nelson ’10 also criticized the utility of the card.
“It actually contains very few useful rights at all,” he said. “There’s no relevant right on here that’s actually going to help students.”
Sen. Erik Houser ’10 was more forceful in his criticism of the bill.
“All of my friends and me threw away our useful KYR cards the second we got them last year,” he said. “Nobody cares. Nobody is going to read this card. They’re all going to throw it away.”
Houser suggested that a website be established as an alternative to provide information about the Honor Code to students.
He also argued that the Honor Council’s participation in the creation of the cards was suspect, saying that the “policing body” was essentially being allowed to choose what rights to tell the public.
Brown responded that the cards were not designed by the Honor Council.
“The policing body did not design the card. I designed the card,” he said.
Sen. Betty Jeanne Manning ’12 spoke in defense of the cards, arguing that the senate was viewing the bill incorrectly.
“It’s important to realize that at its core, this is a finance bill,” she said, adding that the cards would cost about 10 cents per student. She also argued that Honor Council members were elected by the student body and therefore above certain suspicions.
“This should show that you have faith in them,” she said.
Felitto also defended the bill, saying that the information on the cards is very important and relevant to students.
Due to the protracted debate over the bill, Felitto moved to return the bill to the policy committee. The motion passed 12-3.
The senate also considered the 2009 Omnibus Code Update Act, sponsored by Brown, which would update the SA code. The bill passed unanimously with little debate. The senate also considered the 2009 Omnibus Elections Reform Act, sponsored by Brown.
The bill addresses several issues with the SA elections code that were revealed during the elections last spring. The bill passed unanimously without debate.
The senate also voted to appoint various members to the Elections Commission and the departments of Public Affairs, Student Life, Health and Safety, College Policy and Diversity Initiatives. The appointment of Ryan Eickel ’10 as secretary of the Student Outreach Department proved controversial, as several senators questioned his suitability for the position.
Several senators also expressed concern over Eickel’s conduct as a senator.
Sen. Ross Gillingham ’10 noted that Eickel, who was not in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting, had displayed a minimal presence in the SA, saying, “I don’t think he really cared that much about the senate.”
Nevertheless, Gillingham said that Eickel may prove to be a competent head of the Outreach Department.
“He has the Outreach credentials in terms of this job,” he said.
Sen. Jim Dunleavey ’10 also expressed doubts, arguing that Eickel’s recent unsuccessful senate campaign indicates a lack of public support.
Olzewski spoke in Eickel’s defense, arguing that Eickel is ready to head Outreach.
“If your only hesitation is based on how he was as a senator, I think that’s ridiculous,” she said.
SA President Sarah Rojas ’10 also declared her support for Eickel, though she said that if any executive appointees prove incompetent, they will be removed from their positions. “[SA Vice President] Ryan [Ruzic] and I are not afraid to fire people,” she said.
The vote on Eickel’s nomination was tabled until next week by a vote of 12-5.