Tuesday’s Student Assembly senate meeting centered on discussion of the SA Kickstarter Act, which allocates $2,500 to help fund new student organizations.
Senator debate arose over how to form a committee that would review applications for SA Kickstarter funding. A few options were offered on who should review applications and decide if an organization receives funding, including the senate’s existing finance committee, the Student Organization Recognition Committee or a new committee solely for the Kickstarter.
Sen. Eboni Brown ’17 pointed out that SORC could not allocate SA funding because it is not an actual body of the SA. SA President Yohance Whitacker ’16 made a statement against putting the reviewing of Kickstarter applications in SORC’s hands.
“SORC is a great body and they approve what is and is not a club on William and Mary’s campus, but in terms of the allocation of Student Assembly funds, I think philosophically and per the Code, that should be a responsibility that’s vested Senate, which is our legislative branch,” Whitaker said.
Senate chairman Dan Ackerman ’16 and Sen. Seth Opoku-Yeboah ’16 emphasized the benefits of SORC, which is currently composed of only senators. Ackerman explained that SORC takes the time to understand all the details of a student organization, which could be helpful when evaluating an organization for funding.
The rationale behind creating a new committee altogether was the idea that a greater array of diverse perspectives could be included if senators from all different committees were involved.
“We should have as much representation from the committees in senate on that committee, so it’s not just purely finance, so it’s not purely student life,” Brown said. “But making sure that public affairs, outreach and policy all have a voice in the committee. I am not saying that SORC doesn’t have that, but that was the point of having a separate committee.”
When it came to vesting the power in the senate finance committee, several senators, including Sen. Peter Quinn Jacobs M.A. ’18 J.D. ’18 and Sen. JC LaRiviere ‘17, voiced their support for that option. Quinn-Jacobs explained that the finance committee is equipped to make decisions regarding the allocation; he explained that he didn’t see the need for diversity in this committee, as the finance committee is already diverse. LaRiviere added that the finance committee is already efficient in its completion of funding reports.
Brown, who chairs the finance committee, stated that finance already has a lot to deal with during their meetings, including activities and events requests, competition requests and other funding duties. She said she was unsure of adding another duty to finance’s list. Ackerman also added that the responsibility could be given to the executive committee, because it is made up of committee chairs from all of the senate’s committees.
Whitaker commented on how it is not just the finance committee’s role to make decisions on what endeavors SA pursues.
“I think it’s important to note that, yes, finance makes decisions of activities and events requests, competitions, conference funds, and when it comes to a bill that allocates money that’s finance’s purview,” Whitaker said. “But finance nor any committee solely has the responsibility of deciding what is and is not a good idea, and what SA should sponsor. So I think it’s important that it is made up of a representative pool of the senate committees, because each one has a different perspective,”
Sen. Quetzabel Benavides ’16 reminded the senators of the value of the SA Kickstarter and to keep that in mind when deciding on this allocating body.
“I think the one thing we need to keep in mind is that the value behind this is we want to support student organizations, and the purpose of SORC is to ensure that whenever a new organization comes that they’re going to be successful to at least three years and if not beyond,” Benavides said. “I think the benefit of having somebody each committee is that for these new organizations, what we want is for them to succeed on this campus and the reason they get recognized is ideally that they bring something that this campus doesn’t have. So I think the benefit of whether it be going through exec or somebody from each committee is that we can assist them if they want to do something bigger and we start having those connections now.”
The SA Kickstarter Act was tabled and returned to committees this weekend, before coming back for a vote at the next senate meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 6.