SA enacts spending limits in fall 2020’s first meeting

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EMMA FORD AND KIM LORES / THE FLAT HAT

At the College of William and Mary Student Assembly’s first meeting of the fall semester, Senate Chair Meghana Boojala ’22 announced that the Senate is under a suggested spending limit for the fall semester in order to align with the College’s interim financial policies relating to COVID-19.

Boojala explained that bills proposing expenditures under $50 will be able to operate under normal Senate procedures. Bills exceeding this threshold will have to be approved by Assistant Vice President of Student Leadership Development Drew Stelljes. The new protocol was implemented by the College’s administration as part of a university-wide initiative to ensure that costs are going towards essential expenditures.

“This is to focus Senate’s efforts on initiatives that are important to the students right now,” Boojala said in a written statement. “However, the intention is also to allow Senators to work with students and continue the projects they are passionate about.”

Any bill under the new $50 limit will go through SA’s normal financial process and will be distributed to committees and voted on by the Senate. The $50 dollar limit on SA bills is restricted to SA internal affairs, or in other words, any bill that accesses SA reserve funds; therefore, any spending set aside for SA’s other funds, such as the Competition and Service Fund, as well as the Student Activities fee which is allocated to student organizations, will not be subject to the limit.

Before being reviewed by SLD, the bill must first be categorized as either immediate or deferred spending by SA’s Finance Committee. Immediate spending bills will go through appropriate channels to be allocated during the fall semester. Deferred spending bills will still be voted on during the fall semester, but funding for the bill will not be allocated until after the $50 limit is lifted, or until the spring semester.

This is to focus Senate’s efforts on initiatives that are important to the students right now. However, the intention is also to allow Senators to work with students and continue the projects they are passionate about.”

There is no overall cap on SA’s funding for the semester, signifying that senators can pass as many bills through normal processes as desired, provided those bills are under the $50 limit.

Also relating to budgetary matters, SA President Anthony Joseph ’21 signed Executive Order 328-001, which details rollovers and holds for SA’s 2020-2021 budget. The order states that only 5 percent of SA’s Reserves will be allocated to the Competition Fund and Service Fund, rather than the usual 10 percent. This change was enacted since the College has imposed strict regulations on student organizations’ ability to travel, as well as because SA had an unusually large sum of money returned to its reserves following many event cancellations in spring.

The order also announces that SA has placed a hold for $140,000 that was left over from the spring semester, due to the cancellation of the Spring Concert as well as the cancellation of student organizations’ events.

Any registered student organizations with remaining event funding from the 2019-2020 fiscal year have until Oct. 11 to reclaim those funds for events rescheduled for this fall, provided those events meet proper COVID-19 guidelines. Additionally, student organizations seeking changes to their fall budgets because of COVID-19 limitations have until Dec. 11 to apply for funding for rescheduled events.

In his order, Joseph acknowledged that he did not intend to set an example for how SA finances should be handled moving forward.

“I wholeheartedly acknowledge that this is an unprecedented action that will supersede parts of Code and Constitution of Student Assembly, and do not want to set a dangerous precedent that would disregard those documents,” Joseph’s order said.

Also at this week’s meeting:

  • Senators confirmed Mya White ’21 as Secretary of Student Experience. White said she hopes to focus on improving First Year Experience programming and fostering discussions about diversity and belonging on campus.
  • Patrick Salsburg ’21 introduced the No Class on Election Day Resolution, which would call on the College to cancel classes Nov. 3. This resolution comes in the wake of Virginia’s declaration of Election Day as a state holiday.
  • Salsburg also introduced the More Compost Bins on Campus Act, which would expand the amount of compost bins on campus due to increased food consumption occurring outside of dining halls.