With a new website and a new set of initiatives, the College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly will open its 318th session Aug. 31.
For many members, increasing the SA’s accessibility is a key goal for this semester, in addition to other objectives ranging from reforming the campus alcohol policy to subsidizing STI testing for students.
“What I want to do is make [the SA] more approachable, more student-friendly [and] easier to use,” SA Vice President Kaveh Sadeghian ’12 said.
According to Sadeghian, students at the College have not always regarded the proceedings of the SA as sufficiently transparent. Last year, a College survey found that more than 50 percent of students felt the body did not serve their interests effectively.
To address this issue, Sadeghian said he would focus on outreach, empowerment and advertisement about the SA’s accessibility.
“[I want to] make sure people know the SA is an ally and it’s a resource, and make sure people are encouraged to join,” Sadeghian said.
The SA’s first step toward achieving that end was the launch of its new website, www.wmstudentassembly.com, in time for freshman move-in day. Created over the summer, the site is not yet fully updated, but students will soon be able to log on and read about the issues the governing body is tackling, find biographies of student representatives, and learn how they can get involved. Students will be able to subscribe to the website’s RSS feed to receive updates about the body’s latest work.
Chair Stef Felitto ’12 said she will be working this semester to make funding for student organizations and events, which the SA allocates, more attainable. One major reform would allow students to submit funding requests electronically.
“Since the guidelines we use are pretty broad, I think changing the way we facilitate it would make a big difference,” she said. “Rather than manipulating the codes, we should get out there to clubs ourselves making sure they understand how to get the funding.”
Several initiatives from last session will be carried over into the new semester. Sen. Ryan Ruzic J.D. ’11 plans to submit a bill called the “Student Health Act II,” which would appropriate $15,000 to provide free testing at the Student Health Center for sexually transmitted diseases. Last year’s Student Health Act I provided $13,000 for the tests, and it was well received by students.
“Before, the average battery [of tests] would cost around $75,” Ruzic said. “Now, any student can go in and get tested for free.”
Senators also plan to address opposition to and reform of the College’s alcohol policy. Sen. Mike Young ’11 said he would like to see a loosening of the College’s rules in regard to alcohol container sizes.
“Right now, you can have three 0.75 liter containers in your room, but if you have one larger container you are breaking rules,” he said. “We need to work to change those rules.”
Young is also working to halt changes to the student handbook proposed by the Office of Student Affairs this summer that he believes are unfavorable to students. SA members are meeting with College President Taylor Reveley this week to discuss the matter.
The SA’s first meeting of the year will take place Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. in Tyler Hall, and it will be open to students.