Following last Tuesday’s Student Assembly Senate vote to pass the Hobble Wobble Gobble Act, which allocates $3,007 toward the purchase of turkeys for low-income City of Williamsburg residents, SA President Elijah Levine ’18 announced that he was vetoing the bill over concerns regarding the funding’s origins.
The bill, which helps purchase turkeys for families in Williamsburg, also creates a partnership between SA and campus organizations such as Campus Kitchen, Greater City and the Minority Student Law Association. The partnership would have provided canned foods, stuffing and Thanksgiving turkeys to residents living in low-income neighborhoods or long-term motels.
Sodexo plans to collect Dining Dollars and meal swipes to provide its employees with Thanksgiving dinners. SA also plans to advertise that students can donate their meal swipes to Sodexo through this funding.
According to the wording of the bill, which was sponsored by class of 2019 President Jonah Yesowitz ’19, the funding would be allocated from SA reserves. However, Levine said that he did not think the reserves were an appropriate source of funding.
This isn’t a matter of the reserves being poorly used, but it’s about fitting with the service fund,” Levine said.
“This isn’t a matter of the reserves being poorly used, but it’s about fitting with the service fund,” Levine said. “The fund was brought up during deliberations. I think this warranted that we talk about the service fund, which we have a lot of oversight over. In May, some is rolled over from activities and events, and we can control if that five percent turns to seven percent or 10 percent.”
The community engagement fund, which is earmarked for community service events, is one option for funding SA initiatives. At the end of each year, leftover money from the activities and events fund, which funds campus events and events hosted by student organizations, rolls into the community engagement fund.
According to Chair of the Senate Alaina Shreves ’18, it is unusual for the senate to fund outside service events. For this reason, she said she believes the community engagement fund is better suited to funding the Hobble Wobble Gobble Act.
Two years ago, when a similar version of the bill was brought before the senate in the form of the Tribe Turkey Act, senators discussed whether it was appropriate to use SA funds to put on a service event that, according to some, didn’t directly impact students at the College of William and Mary. After this discussion, senators moved to pass the bill, and in 2015, launched an SA Day of Service dedicated to putting together baskets of food.
According to Shreves, the veto will promote discussion about senator involvement in the Hobble Wobble Gobble Act. Shreves said she does not want to see the senate allocate funding to a service event without doing more to support it.
“There is a lot more that senate can do besides writing a bill,” Shreves said. “We could just volunteer for a day. We need to think about what we can do as a group, and we need to have that conversation.”
According to Levine and Shreves, the veto of Yesowitz’s bill will be addressed next Tuesday. Yesowitz will have the opportunity to accept “friendly amendments” to the bill that would change the source of funding. He could also introduce a new version of the bill or opt to overturn the vote. To do this, he would need to get a positive vote from 75 percent of the senators.
According to Yesowitz, Levine informed him about the veto the day before he announced it. Yesowitz said that he would have preferred that this discussion be raised during last week’s meeting.
Yesowitz also said that he is planning to work out the details of where the materials are going and how College students can become more involved. He said that he believes this bill benefits the College because Williamsburg is the College’s community.
“There shouldn’t be this huge gap between William and Mary and Williamsburg,” Yesowitz said. “Williamsburg is our community, and we should do something that helps members of the community. This veto will ensure that we won’t see more like it. This is a great case of losing sight of details. It seems like if anyone tries to do anything new or different there is push back to that.”