The 318th senate of the College of William and Mary Student Assembly held its first meeting of the academic year Tuesday.
The senate passed the A Big Time Speaker for a Big Time School Act by a vote of 8-6 with two abstentions.
The bill covers the total cost of bringing author and journalist Christopher Hitchens to campus. The planned event is a free debate on Middle East policy between Hitchens and government professor Lawrence Wilkerson, who also served as former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff.
“[Hitchens] loves the school, and the opportunity to debate Lawrence Wilkerson is very intriguing to him,” Sen. Curt Mills ’13, a sponsor of the bill, said. “He’s really excited to come out.”
$17,000 will be set aside for the bill, $15,000 of which will pay for Mr. Hitchens’ speaking fee.
Despite initial concerns that Hitchens’s bout with esophageal cancer would prevent the debate, a final agreement on Hitchens’s appearance has been reached. The contract is expected to be signed today.
Sen. Mike Young ’11, another of the bill’s sponsors, said even those who do not attend the debate could benefit.
“It’s not necessarily about how many students attend,” Young said. “It’s about bringing intellectual notoriety to the university. It’s about doing something good for the university.”
The event is currently scheduled for Sept. 27 in the Sadler Center’s Commonwealth Auditorium.
The SA also passed the Student Handbook Response Act by a vote of 15-0 with one abstention.
The College administration proposed several changes, which the SA denounced Tuesday, to the Student Handbook July 6.
These changes include modifying the standard of proof in hearings from “clear and convincing” to “preponderance of evidence,” and allowing the administration to disclose amnesty incidents on a student’s discipline record when he or she applies for Residence Life positions.
The bill argues that changes to the handbook are not in the best interests of the College and should be reconsidered.
“Ideally, I would like to see [the administration] re-submit the changes to the student body, so that students can have a fully informed chance to respond instead of just an email sent over the summer with a one-week deadline,” Young said.
Sen. Ryan Ruzic J.D. ’11 also introduced the Student Health Act II.
If passed, the bill would allocate up to $15,000 to fully subsidize STI testing for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, Human Papilloma Virus, herpes and genital warts at the Student Health Center for one academic year.
Under a similar bill last year, the SA provided $13,000 in funding for STI testing. The $2,000 addition would allow for free tests for HPV. The test, which costs $50 per person, was not subsidized last year.
Ruzic said students voted by an overwhelming majority for the SA to include HPV testing during the March SA election.
“HPV can drastically increase the risk of cervical cancer among women, and they deserve this protection as well,” he said.
The SA’s Consolidated Reserve began the year at a balance of $185,271.47. 2009-2010 expenditures from the Consolidated Reserve included $800 for bicycle theft protection, $240. 13 for the construction of the campus gardens, $1,106.47 toward community bike purchases, $8,780.24 for community service projects, $800 for competition fund approvals, $4,606.25 for exam booklets and $48.77 for ping pong balls.
The SA also approved two nominations to executive cabinet positions. Max Meadows ’12 was confirmed as the new secretary of College policy, and Paul Lendway ’11 was confirmed as the secretary of finance.
Senate Chairman Stef Felitto ’12 announced that Sen. Josh Karp ’11 resigned from his position in the SA. A new senator for the class of 2011 will be elected through a special vote during the regularly-scheduled Sept. 23 class of 2014 SA elections.
The SA meets weekly Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in Tyler 201. Meetings are open to all students.