SA passes ‘I am WM’ Week Act, debates funding requests

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EMMA FORD AND KIM LORES / THE FLAT HAT

At the College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly meeting Jan. 28, Senators discussed three new bills, voted in favor of the ‘I am WM’ Week Act and debated an Activities and Events funding request.

Senators voted unanimously to pass the ‘I am WM’ Week Act. The bill seeks to highlight diverse cultural and religious experiences on campus by organizing a weeklong campaign called “seeing through the eyes of W&M international stories”, telling the anonymous stories of members of the College’s international community.

The week will include interfaith performances, a showing of the award-winning international film “Roma”, diversity valentines expressing “Love is Love” and a drag show. The whole week will culminate into the Sankofa Gala, which will celebrate diverse perspectives on campus at a formal-attire event.

Senators debated over the price of the space for hosting the gala, as it had increased relative to previous years. New event staff at the College’s Mason School of Business changed the event pricing to rent out the Brinkley Commons, meaning that the venue will now cost $1,425, a significant price increase from past iterations of the event. Some senators questioned if the event should be held in another space, to which Sen. Kyle Vasquez ’21 responded by emphasizing the importance of ‘I am WM’ Week as a whole, and the Sankofa Gala in particular.

“We’re trying really hard to make this a bigger deal because of the sentiment of the event,” Vasquez said.  “… The peak of the week is going to be Sankofa Gala, which is why we want it to be in Brinkley Commons. In the future, I would love to consider a different venue, if the people who are saying ‘consider a different venue’ will give me a wonderful idea for another peak that will be representative to the student body.”

Senators unanimously passed the bill, supporting all the events throughout the week.

Later in the meeting, Kaitlyn Depew ’20, a member of the TEDX committee, and Sen. Nick Wheaton M.B.A. ’20 introduced an events funding request for the TEDX event scheduled for Feb. 21. The request asked for $4,342 in SA funding.

Chair of the Finance Committee Sen. Meghana Boojala ’22 objected to two objectives within the request, arguing that the cost of $5 per head for the pizza dinner for audience members was too high and that it would violate internal SA finance rules to fund a lunch for TEDX committee members that would not be open for the entire campus community.

Senators discussed the drawbacks of ignoring typical SA protocols to provide the lunch. Senate Chair Sen. Anthony Joseph ’21 stated that typically, in high school and college organizations, students in extracurricular organizations often pay for their own meals during events.

“But this will not be the hill that I die on,” Joseph said.

Wheaton, who serves on the TEDX committee, responded by saying that the committee is trying to make TEDX a premier event on campus, and subsequently needs to ensure that the event includes food for both participants and attendees. The senators eventually compromised and changed the cost per head for pizza to $3, while maintaining funding for a lunch for committee members in the budget.

Also at this week’s meeting:

  • Class of 2020 President Cody Mills ’20 and Sens. Patrick Salsburg ’21, Maggie Wells ’21, Vicky Morales ’22, Maheen Saeed ’23 and Madison Hubbard ’23 gave a presentation concerning the Divest from Fossil Fuels Resolution. The bill calls for the College to immediately divest from companies affiliated with fossil fuels and to avoid future commitments with these companies.
  • Joshua Panganiban ’20 introduced the Sustainability Climate Action Resolution, which calls for Student Assembly to support students in reducing the student-created carbon footprint on campus; students contribute to 20 percent of the College’s carbon footprint.