Senate passes Equal Representation Act

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March 10, 2015

9:00 PM

Sen. Emily Thomas ’17 referred to the Senate’s meeting on Tuesday, March 3 as one of the organization’s longest meetings in recent history. The College of William and Mary Student Assembly Senate convened for more than three hours to discuss the Equal Representation Act.

The Equal Representation Act adds another senator from the College’s graduate schools to the senate and establishes that a Graduate Council representative and an Executive representative should attend all Executive Cabinet and Graduate Council meetings respectively.

The proposed bill also included a clause that would give preference to applicants from the graduate schools for two secretary positions in the SA’s Executive branch. The version of the Equal Representation Act passed by the senate Tuesday omitted this clause concerning graduate applicants to the SA Executive branch to allow undergraduate Student Assembly members and representatives from the Graduate Council more time to negotiate.

Sen. Yohance Whitaker ’16 shared his reservations about this clause, which he identified as the main point of contention during the meeting.

“To demand that two of the secretaries be from the grad schools fundamentally changes the purpose of [the] exec [branch],” Whitaker said. “Exec is not meant to be a representative body. … The body that is supposed to be proportional and fairly representative is the legislative branch.”

This bill was introduced in new business and then moved to old business because of a time constraint. The Graduate Council’s veto power on the dissolution of the Undergraduate Council will expire at the end of spring break, and the council prepared to vote on a veto following the conclusion of the meeting. The results of the veto vote hinged upon the results of the senate meeting.

Sen. James Walker ’15 asked to table the discussion about the proposed act to give senators the opportunity to discuss it in senate committee meetings.

“I think that we should take the time, and I don’t think that the pressure that you’re leveraging on us is necessary,” Walker said.

Graduate Council President Christian Bale ’14 M.P.P. ’15 stated that the Graduate Council only learned recently about the dissolution of the Undergraduate Council.  The Graduate Council previously believed that any legislation involved in the dissolution of the Undergraduate Council would also include changes regarding graduate school representation in the Student Assembly in the same bills.

The amended version of the Equal Representation Act passed unanimously with three abstentions. The senate agreed to meet with the representatives from the Graduate Council this week to further discuss the possibility of two secretaries in the Executive Cabinet from the College’s graduate schools.

During their Tuesday meeting, the senate also confirmed Mallory Powers ’18 to the Election Commission by unanimous consent.

“She’s a younger member of our student body, so she will be able to serve on the Election Commission potentially for a while and has expressed interest in coming back,” Vice President of the Student Assembly Kendall Lorenzen ’15 said. “She will be really familiar with the code, and I think that she will be able to serve well.”

Sen. Michelle Tansey ’16 introduced the Richard Cornish Speakers Series Act, a bill that allocates $2,900 to pay for the travel and lodging expenses of Spencer Perry. Perry is a student from George Washington University, who would come to the College to speak about LGBTQ issues and his personal experience as the son of two of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court Proposition 8 case.

Additionally, Sen. J.C. LaRiviere ’17 introduced the Medical Amnesty Reform Resolution. This bill supports changes to the College’s Medical Amnesty Policy. The Resolution’s proposed changes include implementing educational components after alcohol violations and ending the use of amnesty incidents in Conduct and Honor Councils’ proceedings.

The Incoming Students Outreach Act passed by unanimous consent. This bill aims to inform incoming students about the Student Assembly with information sheets and CSU postcards during new student orientation programs.

The Vans Vans Baby Act, sponsored by Sen. Seth Opoku-Yeboah ’16, would provide transportation to off-campus stadiums for spring baseball and lacrosse games with support from the SA’s Department of Transportation.

Chairman of the Senate Daniel Ackerman ’16 assigned the bill to the finance, public affairs and student life committees.

Sen. James Walker ’15 introduced the Money Transfer Act to transfer the remaining money from the Student Assembly Service Fund to the Student Activities and Events Fund.

The senate also approved the Humans of W&M Experience Act and the Release Act by unanimous consent during the March 3 meeting.

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About Author

Managing Editor Amelia Lucas '18 is an English and finance double major from Ashburn, VA. She previously served as Assoc. News Editor and News Editor. Follow @thxamelian on Twitter.