Student Assembly senate discusses bills on funding, accountability

0
420
SA's Review Board will hold a new special election after technical issues and human error interfered with results from the original Nov. 2 election. SYDNEY MCCOURT / THE FLAT HAT

During the College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly meeting Feb. 20, senators discussed six new bills, including one that would prevent excess money in SA’s reserves fund from rolling into the Fund for William & Mary, the College’s largest unrestricted funding source that acts as an endowment.

Currently, SA code mandates that all unused funds in the reserves account in excess of $100,000 go to the Fund for William & Mary. This bill, sponsored by Class of 2019 President Jonah Yesowitz ’19, Sen. Sikander Zakriya ’19, Class of 2021 President David DeMarco ’21 and Sen. Brendan Boylan ’19, alleges that because this fund acts as an endowment, it only allocates the interest it earns toward projects it deems worthy.

Because this fund acts independently of SA, the sponsors believe that SA is unable to ensure that the reserves fund is dedicated solely to students at the College. According to Yesowitz, this bill is important because each student contributes $98 to the student activities fee, which is then budgeted to student organizations. For the 2017-18 year, the allocated budget is $739,900. All money that is not used in the yearly budgeting process then goes to SA’s reserves.

If the senate votes next week to pass The Financial Accountability Act, all money in the reserves will remain in the reserve fund in perpetuity.

“This bill basically makes it so that we are accountable to our students who donate $98 out of their tuition each year to us,” Yesowitz said. “We need to make sure we are using that money to better campus and not giving it to the endowment fund. This has been in the works for a couple of weeks. … I think this would be a really good thing for SA to talk about.”

If passed, the bill would also lower the percentage of money from the reserves fund that would be allocated to SA’s competition fund. Currently, at the start of each fiscal year, 15 percent of the reserves fund is allocated to the competition fund. This bill would change that to 10 percent and would prevent the competition fund from accumulating a balance from year to year.

At this meeting, Boylan also introduced The Representative Accountability Act, a piece of legislation similar to his bill, The Assembly Accountability Act, which was rejected last week. This bill incorporates his earlier idea to codify that senators cannot concurrently hold positions on Honor Council. Unlike his previous bill, The Representative Accountability Act does not address policies regarding senate elections.

Because both of these bills involve revising the code, all senate committees will review them over the weekend and make recommendations on them during the Feb. 27 meeting. Then, the senate will vote on these bills, as well as the other four bills introduced this week.

Also at this week’s meeting:

  • Following the resignation of Sen. Shannon Dutchie ’19 from the position of senate secretary, Sen. Ellie Thomas ’20 will serve as secretary.
  • Class of 2021 President David DeMarco ’21 introduced the Cocoa a La Matoaka Act, which would allocate $2,507 to purchase movie-screening rights and cater an event at the Martha Wren Briggs Amphitheater at Lake Matoaka. Sen. Helen Tariku ’21, Sen. Kyle Vasquez ’21, Sen. Aria Austin ’21 and Sen. Jack Simmons ’21 are also sponsors of the bill.
  • Clare DaBaldo ’20 introduced The Spring Food Festival Act which would allocate $627 to coordinate a food festival for interested student organizations to sell food as a fundraiser. According to SA Secretary of Student Life Connie Lee ’19, this event, scheduled for March 25, will serve as an opportunity for student organizations to fundraise and gain publicity.
  • Melissa Horne M.B.A. ’18 introduced the “Let Grads Ring” Act, which would allocate $2,507 to cater and hire security for an event where graduate students could ring the bell in the Christopher Wren Building before their respective graduations this spring.
  • Sikander Zakriya ’19 introduced The TEDx 2018 Conference Act, which would allocate $6,181 to host the annual TEDx conference March 25.