SA discusses TEDx funding concerns at Jan. 29 meeting

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After debate, the Student Assembly senate voted to allocate funding to the annual TEDx event. KIMBERLY LORES / THE FLAT HAT

At the Jan. 29 College of William and Mary Student Assembly meeting, senators debated whether or not their code allowed them to approve a bill that would provide funding for TEDx, an event hosted annually at the College as a more informal version of TED Talks. The senate eventually passed the bill, co-sponsored by Senate Chair Ellie Thomas ’20 and Sen. Anthony Joseph ’21, and allocated a total of $5,030 from the Student Assembly Reserves for the event.

Prior to the bill’s passage, Class of 2021 President Dave DeMarco ’21 debated whether SA code allowed them to fund part of the bill that would pay for lunches for the speakers. DeMarco argued that because the lunch was exclusive and not available to the student body, SA could not fund the event.

“This is an exclusive lunch, I don’t think by the code, we could do that,” DeMarco said. “… I think we have to be worried about that. This is more reason to revisit the code, because I don’t think it would be allowed.”

TEDx event committee member Alexander Nocks ’19 said that the lunch was an important part of showing hospitality in the future and could help develop connections for future speakers.

Other senators argued that the event as a whole is inclusive to the entire student body, and therefore, lunch payments were a necessary part of the overall event.

“We should think of this as giving the speakers a nice experience so that we can give our entire student body a nice experience,” Sen. Alexis Payne ’19 said.

A couple of changes will be added to the TEDx talks this year, which will all have a common theme of “Crossroads” and take place on Friday, Feb. 15. The event location has been moved to the Commonwealth Auditorium to eliminate an audience cap — which has in the past limited the attendance to 100 students. After the College’s chapter sent a representative from Student Leadership Development for TED training, the group is now able to advertise the event without an audience cap. In addition, the event will feature two student speakers instead of one as well as government professor Jackson Sasser and DC Central Kitchen’s Mike Curtin.

Earlier in the meeting, the senate voted to approve a two-year contract with the Media Council, an organization which oversees and allocates budgets to campus publications that are also recognized student organizations. The new contract will provide $181,000 to the Media Council for the 2019-20 year and caps the Student Media Reserves fund at $75,000. Language in the contract suggests that two SA members should sit on the council as advisory representatives.

“I don’t know if any of you have been to a Media Council meeting, but I have and I definitely think we need advisors there,” Sen. Alec Friedman ’19 said. “When I went, there was essentially no discussion over a bill that was $11,000 and then they basically voted unanimously for it. I don’t know, I just thought that it wasn’t necessarily well thought-out, so I do have some concerns about that … spending too much money without really asking good questions.”

Also at this week’s meeting:
● The class of 2022 senators will be hosting a “Strangers No S’more” event for the freshman class Saturday, Feb. 2 at 5:00 p.m., at which they will provide free s’mores on Jamestown Field.
● The National Eating Disorder Awareness Week Act passed unanimously, meaning that the senate will allocate $380 for the costs of the weeklong events, which will include a profit share, a panel discussion and a self-care fair.
● Feb. 23 SA will host a mental health workshop called “Empowering Support: How to be a friend, peer, and advocate.”