A change to the student handbook has prompted Student Assembly representatives to pass legislation calling for greater discussion of the alteration.
The change requires students to report any arrests no matter the time, place, or charge within 72 hours of the instance. The language and controversial nature of the policy sparked contention in the SA meeting Thursday.
This change was proposed last spring semester and provided to students for comment before it was announced earlier this year.
Senators A.J. Sapon ’13, Drew Wilke ’15 and members of the Executive answered students’ complaints with the Indecent Disclosure Resolution Act. The Act urges discussion between the Office of the Dean of Students and student body representatives about the change.
“At this point we’re just trying to raise concern and open discussion,” Wilke said. “I feel like right now it’s going through each part of [the policy] and sitting down with Dean Gilbert in his office … Open the discussion first rather than going for the fill nine yards.”
Senator Colin Danly ’15 disagreed with the legislation’s language, wishing that it outlined a more distinct goal.
“Even if [the bill is] a conversation opener, I think we should have a message when we go there saying either we want it suspended or we want it amended,” Danly said. “I want this to go to Dean Gilbert and I want this to be a solidified measure.”
The handbook change is sparked by a nationwide trend of which the College of William and Mary is an early subscriber. Recent violent crimes on campuses, particularly University of Virginia’s Yeardley Love murder and the Virginia Tech shooting where the perpetrators had histories of violence unbeknownst to the school, prompted the policy.
While the policy aims to create a safer community for students, some SA members feel the change is too vague and includes too many minor offenses.
“What happens in our personal lives away from school kind of has no bearing on our academic career, but it would follow us to school,” Secretary of College Policy Ben Migdol ’13 said. “This pertains to noise complaints [and] being drunk in public. It’s concerning for a lot of reasons first and foremost being privacy and student rights.”
Student Assembly President Curt Mills ’13 hoped this bill will show the Senate’s support when speaking to Dean Gilbert early next week. Senator Sapon agreed, emphasizing the need to inform the Dean of the dissatisfaction among the student body regarding the handbook change.
“The thing that matters right now is registering with the administration that there is widespread discontent with the changes,” Sapon said. “I think that the most important thing that we can do right now is get the message out and deliver what the student body has been saying to the administration.”
The Senate unanimously passed the bill as a document urging Dean Gilbert and the Dean of Students Office to “solicit meaningful student input on all major policies relating to the use of student information” and “solicit student input regarding changes to the scope and character of the Student Handbook.”
Despite the successful passing of this Act, the Senate meeting struggled to reach quorum, creating criticism from Senate leaders that harkened back to last year.
“I’m very disappointed in today’s turn out for Senate,” Senate Chair Kendall Lorenzen ’15 said. “It’s inexcusable, [you] are elected officials and it’s your job to serve your class and you can’t do that if you aren’t here.”
The senate, containing only two returning senators, also fumbled meeting protocol. Senators spoke out of turn and forgot to adhere to the speakers list. Lorenzen also spoke of senator punctuality, namely the need to submit proposals and legislation on time so she can add them to the meeting’s agenda.
Two other pieces of legislation were debated and passed by the end of the meeting: the Bettering Education Efforts Responsibility Act, or BEER, and the Hark Upon the Ballot Box T-shirt Act.
BEER will provide 3,000 free koozies to the student body. The koozies will sport the SA logo as well as an abbreviated version of the Medical Amnesty policy. The hope is that students will have their free koozies when in possible medical amnesty situations.
“I think this a great act because it showcases the ability of the Student Assembly to get out the message of what medical amnesty is,” Senator and bill sponsor William McConnell ’14 said. “I think that in conjunction with the SA logo [this] is a great place to put the SA.”
Secretary of Student Life Dallen McNerney ’14 is credited with leading the koozie effort. Other members of the senate support the initiative, including SA President Curt Mills ’13.
“This is the bulk of what Dallen McNerney really focused on last year as Policy Chair,” Mills said. “I think that this will be extremely popular [and] a tangible way that the Student Assembly can give back.”
The Hark Upon the Ballot Box T-shirt Act loans the SA $420 to purchase 50 voter registration t-shirts which will be sold for eight dollars to any student.