Student Assembly passes FOIAs for All Act Tuesday

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November 12, 2010

12:00 AM

The College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly passed the FOIAs for All act at its meeting Tuesday.
The act earmarks $10,000 from the SA consolidated reserve fund, which will soon be transformed into the Student Activities Reserves, for funding Freedom of Information Act requests by students.

The commonwealth of Virginia has had an active FOIA law since 1968.

FOIA laws allow for requests for unreleased documents held by public bodies within federal or state governments and for easier access to public records.

However, these requests can be expensive — the body being requisitioned may charge for research and reproduction of the documents and findings.

For students to gain access to SA funds, their requests must be heard by the Senate Policy Committee, which will determine the merit of the requests and then decide how much of the requests to subsidize.

Students can also use this for reimbursement for FOIA requests.

Representatives from the Living Wage Coalition came out in support of the bill.

“It would mean a whole lot to the Living Wage campaign; we have been trying to get access to the full [College] budget for two years,” KB Brower ’11, an LWC leader, said. “[With this] we can point to different areas [of the budget] where [the College] might be wasting money — [areas where money] can be reallocated in ways that would not hurt anyone on this campus or in this community — and facilitate a more open and knowledgeable dialogue.”

Sen. Ryan Ruzic J.D. ’11 said the wide support for the bill suggests its necessity.

“One of the things that has bothered me is that we as a body can pass bills for a FOIA request and pay for it ourselves, [but] student groups don’t have a way of doing that,” Ruzic said. “I think that it’s great we’re giving groups this option. I think it’s telling that the sponsors of this bill and the Living Wage campaign both love this bill.”

The bill was approved by unanimous consent.

The senate also passed the Harry Potter Trolley Act, sponsored by Sen. Michael Douglass ’11.

This will fund late night trolley service for the return of College students who attend the midnight showings of the latest Harry Potter film at the Movie Tavern and New Town Cinemas next Friday.
The trolley service will be free for students and run until 3 a.m.

Katie Ballard MPP ’11, a representative from the Graduate Policy Association, came to explain the speaking venue chosen for former Va. Governor and current DNC Chairman Tim Kaine. Kaine is set to speak in the Wren Building, which has space for only a small number of attendees.

Several senators said the event has not received wide advertisement. The event will be broadcast live online. Tickets for the event have already been distributed.

The Endowment Act also passed 18-1.

Ruzic introduced the Review Board Neutrality in Meetings Act.

This bill seeks to prevent Review Board members in attendance at senate meetings from commenting on the constitutionality of potential bills.

He also posed the Drunk Driving and Sexual Assault Prevention Act, which would provide information for students leaving bars.

The Thanksgiving Break Airport Shuttle Act and the Counseling Center Door Hangers Act were also brought in front of the senate.

The SA meets Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in Tyler Hall room 201.

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