The Student Assembly senate elected a new secretary, introduced three bills, and passed five bills in its first meeting of the semester Tuesday evening.
Chairman of the Review Board Thibault Vermeulen ’16 also swore in Chase Jordan ’15 as the new Class of 2015 senator. Class President Brianna Buch ’15 appointed Jordan, who replaces Jimmy Zhang ’15. Zhang resigned at the end of last semester to pursue a study abroad program this spring.
“I worked with [Jordan] extensively on different projects related to self-service on campus,” Buch said. “Then I brought his name up to the class officers and voted on him, and he was accepted.”
Sen. Emily Thomas ’17 was appointed as secretary after the other nominees — Sen. Gabriel Morey ’16 and Sen. Daniel Ackerman ’16 — declined their nominations.
“Freshmen holding an office: I think that’s awesome, and I’m excited to take lots of notes,” Thomas said.
The Religious Diversity Act, which allocates $1,000 for a survey measuring religious and non-religious beliefs on campus, passed unanimously.
Although senators raised concerns about the potential survey response rate the Diversity Department and Student Affairs Department would receive, the senate concluded that the benefit of the survey data would be worth the financial cost of its implementation.
“The data that we’re going to get back — now that we know that we’re going to have access to it — it will be able to help us in the coming years,” Sen. Colin Danly ’15 said.
Assistant to the Vice President and Director of Student Affairs Planning and Assessment Jodi Fisler M.Ed. ’05 Ph.D. ’10 and Undersecretary of Religious Affairs Hannah Kohn ’15 said they hope to launch an awareness campaign and gift card incentives to increase the survey response rate.
Much of Tuesday’s meeting focused on bills related to transportation. The senate passed the Transportation Department 2 Act unanimously. The act will create a new executive branch in charge of maintaining relationships with the Office of Parking and Transportation. The branch will also manage transportation initiatives like the fall break and spring break airport shuttles.
“We wanted to create a formal mechanism that streamlines the process so that all transportation initiatives that students have go under one group,” Sen. Gabriel Morey ’16 said.
In dealing with transportation, the senate also passed the Spring Break Transportation Act, which allocates an additional $4,000 for spring break airport shuttles. The Department of Student Life will use this money as needed in addition to the $1,095 already allocated.
The senate moved into closed session when Sen. Yohance Whitaker ’16 introduced the I Am William and Mary Week bill, which allocates $22,000 for the week’s speaker and other associated fees. Chairman Will McConnell ’14 assigned the bill to the finance, student life, outreach and policy committees.
Ackerman introduced the Washington, D.C. Spring Break Act, which allocates $1,500 for a bus ride and workshop program that the D.C. Office and the SA sponsored over fall break. McConnell assigned this bill to the finance, public affairs and outreach committees.
Sen. Colin Danly ’15 introduced the Van Demand Act, which allocates $23,500 for a new 12-passenger SA van and $2,120 for maintaining the van. This van would make three vans available for student organizations’ use.
Secretary of Finance Joe Soultanis ’15 updated the senate on the SA’s finances. The SA has $22,347 left in the activities and events budget, $22,268 left in the competition fund and $72,019.14 left in the reserve.
Additionally, the senate passed the Media Council Contract Act, which replaces the wrong contract signed by former president Curt Mills ’13 and former Publication Council Chair Justin Miller ’13 last spring with a version the senate passed last spring.
The Neighborhood Council of Williamsburg Support Act reimburses Undersecretary of Public Affairs to Williamsburg Scott Caravello ’15 $73 for donuts and coffee he bought for a meeting Feb. 1.