The College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly passed the Statement of Support for Nondiscrimination Act in a 14-0-3 vote at its meeting Tuesday.
The bill is a response to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s March 4 letter to all Virginia public colleges stating that, without authority from the Virginia General Assembly, schools may not include sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression within their anti-discrimination policies.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Curt Mills ’13, expresses “outrage” at Cuccinelli’s letter and asks him both to withdraw it and publicly apologize.
The bill also supports College President Taylor Reveley’s recent e-mail condemning all discrimination on campus.
Several members of the student body were present at Tuesday’s meeting to defend the bill, including the organizers of Thursday’s “VA Against Discrimination” rally, Casey Sears ’11, Becky Little ’12 and Laura Andrew ’12.
“This [letter] is going to make the commonwealth of Virginia a hostile place for all LGBT people,” Sears said.
A Facebook group called “William and Mary says ‘No’ to Ken Cuccinelli’s Discriminatory Letter” currently has more than 2,200 members; the group was also promoted by the bill.
Andrew said the bill could lead to loss of jobs for LGBT-identified people.
“We can’t move forward until [LGBT-identified can] live … without fear,” she said.
Copies of the bill will be sent to both Reveley and Cuccinelli.
The senate also passed a bill that pushes the date of the spring SA elections back six days to March 31, pending approval from the Graduate and Undergraduate Councils.
The Election Day Postponement Act received every vote from all 17 senators present.
Senators Erik Houser ’10 and Ross Gillingham ’10 sponsored the bill due to a lack of candidates that left 16 positions uncontested.
Gillingham said that, due to poor planning within the SA, the Elections Commission did not have enough time to properly publicize the elections after the recent resignation of Commission Chair Jazmine Piña ’11. Sen. Jim Dunleavey ’10 said people who have already declared their candidacy might be placed at a disadvantage by the election delay.
Gillingham disagreed, saying those candidates actually have an advantage, since they have received a week of “free press” ahead of those who might now choose to run.
The amendment does not change the 10-day campaign period required for elections. Campaigning will begin March 22 at midnight.
The Election Integrity Act passed by unanimous consent, amending the constitution to prevent students from running for the SA if they had served on the Elections Commission within the same year.
Sen. Steven Nelson ’10 said this practice should not be allowed because the commission is meant to be impartial.
“This is a very clear-cut case of corruption with the SA election system,” Nelson said.
As this law was not in place before the deadline for students to declare candidacy for the spring elections, it will not affect students’s eligibility to run this semester.
SA President Sarah Rojas ’10 also presented a State of the Student Assembly Address at this week’s meeting, outlining the accomplishments of the SA this year and focusing on goals for the future.