The College of William and Mary Student Assembly passed the Free Speech Defense Act by unanimous consent at its weekly meeting Tuesday.
The bill is a response to campus regulations that ban all chalk messages placed by student organizations and limit the locations where students can protest to designated “free speech zones.”
“Free speech zones are a serious violation of the First Amendment,” Sen. Erik Houser ’10, the bill’s co-sponsor, said.
The bill seeks to express student opposition to the regulations and publicly commend College President Taylor
Reveley and the administration for their continuing efforts regarding freedom of speech on campus.
“I think this is a really great way to express William and Mary and all the wonderful things we have to offer,” Sen. Jill Olszewski ’12 said.
The Foundation for Individual Rights recently designated the College a “green light” school. FIRE describes green light schools as colleges and universities with policies that nominally protect free speech. Houser said a motivating factor behind the Free Speech Defense Act was to maintain the College’s standing.
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Mark Constantine said that administrators
want to work with the SA to protect students’ rights to free speech.
As part of the plan, the College would designate the Crim Dell Amphitheatre as a permanent free speech area, available at all hours and open to all students on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The SA also passed the Get With the Times Act, a bill to allocate funds to have The New York Times delivered to campus daily for the remainder of the semester. The bill passed in a 13-2 vote with two abstentions.
The act sets aside $4,250 for the distribution of 200 copies of the New York Times at five campus locations. The current plan provides 50 newspapers to the Sadler Center, 50 to Alan B. Miller Hall, 50 to the Marshall-Wythe School of Law School, 25 to the Campus Center and 25 to the Commons.
The Finance and Budget Committee, which gave its positive recommendation for the proposal before the vote, decided last week that only one national newspaper should be delivered.
Sen. Betty Jeanne Manning ’12 said that the remainder of the semester would serve as a trial period and that student feedback would then be used to determine the future of the program
The senate also heard from Steer Clear representatives about the need for new vans. Steer Clear Director Zoe Grotophorst ’11 and Assistant Director of Operations
Carolyn Cardwell ’11 said that there are many problems with the current
vans, including doors that do not open properly as well as several broken interior lights.
Additionally, Grotophorst and Cardwell said that drivers cannot charge the Steer Clear cell phone in either van and one van has at least 100,000 miles on its odometer.
The Financial Transparency Act, which would provide the SA with information
from the administration for budget-making decisions in the future, is scheduled to be discussed at a later session.