‘Now is the time for action’: Boylan speaks at inaugural State of the College

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Seven new members of Student Assembly were sworn in at the Sir Christopher Wren Building Chapel Oct. 7. COURTESY PHOTO / WILLIAM JACKSON

The College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly held its first State of the College event Sunday, Oct. 7 to swear in new members of SA. SA President Brendan Boylan ’19 also gave a speech on the College’s current climate and what he felt SA needed to prioritize into the fall semester.

Sen. Jack Bowden ’19 and Sen. Anthony Joseph ’21 co-sponsored the State of the College Address Act, which charged Boylan and other SA executive branch members with hosting the State of the College event. SA Chief of Staff Rachel Becker ’19 and SA Review Board Chair Hank Blackburn ’20 also supported this legislation.

According to SA’s constitution, it is within the responsibilities of SA president to update the senate on the current campus climate and their priorities for the rest of their tenure. This event also provided an opportunity for SA to swear in newly elected class of 2022 representatives, members of the executive cabinet and members of the review board.

In his speech, Boylan said that while fear on the national stage can sway concerns on campus and affect students’ ability to share different viewpoints with each other, he hopes that he and the rest of SA can continue to work together without fear as they create legislation for the campus community.

“We’re living in times of great change,” Boylan said. “I think that we’re also living in times of great fear.”

“We’re living in times of great change,” Boylan said. “I think that we’re also living in times of great fear. … [In] the national dialogue, just from what we’ve seen in the news and what we’ve seen in our country and across the world, it’s very easy to become afraid. But I extremely hope that we never have to become afraid of one another. And I think that we should never have to back down from having the debates or having honest discourse.”

Boylan said that as he and other SA members prepare to finish their terms and graduate, legislation created by SA should emphasize improving the College’s environment and experience for generations of students that will arrive after them.

“I think that now is the time for action,” Boylan said. “Now is the time — we know exactly who we are, we know what we stand for, and now it’s time to act upon it. And I’d like to call on the senate to make radical legislation happen. I want to see risks being taken.”

The SA president encouraged SA members to debate on the senate floor and work to engage other members of the student body in meaningful discussions about the change they want to see on campus.

“… That is the way that we are going to ensure that we are representing the goals of students and that we are doing what we have the capacity to do,” Boylan said.

Boylan also suggested that SA capitalize on the ability of its own representatives, administrators at the College, and elected representatives at the state and national level to help frame the needs of students at the College.

“… [When] we figure out what our priorities are as students, not only at William and Mary, but across the Commonwealth and across the country, there is no limit to what we can do,” Boylan said.

Boylan challenged SA representatives to create legislation that approached issues from different angles and that proposed “innovative” solutions while improving their own representation of students.

“How do we break down financial barriers for people from lower socioeconomic statuses?” Boylan said. “How do we make sure that people in the Wellness Center [are] serving the needs of students and the ways that we are holding the people that are accountable?”

Editor’s Note: The Flat Hat would like to clarify that Jack Bowden ’19 is the Webmaster for the paper. His involvement with the State of the College event is not on behalf of the paper’s interests.