SA discusses varsity sports cuts, debates fall 2020 priorities

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EMMA FORD AND KIM LORES / THE FLAT HAT

At the College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly Sept. 8 meeting, senators discussed the College’s recent decision to eliminate seven varsity athletic sports at the College. Additionally, SA President Anthony Joseph ’21 emphasized the importance of prioritizing certain initiatives to maintain SA’s productivity moving forward. 

In a Sept. 3 announcement, the Tribe Athletic Department cut men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s gymnastics, men’s indoor and outdoor track and field and women’s volleyball, affecting a total of 118 athletes and 13 coaches. 

SA Vice President Kyle Vasquez ’21 announced to the Senate that the executive branch is currently in communication with athletes and executive members, and is working on creating ways to help facilitate their efforts with the College administration. Vasquez emphasized the importance of social media campaigns, and noted the importance of uplifting athletes during this difficult time.

Sen. Rory Fedorochko ’22 said SA should assist athletes and coaches even if it worsens the body’s relationship with administration.

“We need to take a stand, even if it hurts our relationship with administration,” Fedorochko said. “I think it would be insulting to students out there if we sat here and did nothing.  I don’t know what the actionable items would be, I don’t, but…if we can save one sports team, if we can make someone’s life better, I think we should do it.  And if we can’t, I think we should do it anyway.” 

Senators eventually voted to create a style committee that will draft a memo publicizing SA’s position. Hoping to have it written by next week’s meeting, senators said athletes would ideally contribute to this resolution.

Also at the meeting, Sen. Jahnavi Prabhala ’22 introduced the Subsidized Emergency Contraception Act, Covid-19 Edition. This act, which serves as a follow-up to the Subsidized Emergency Contraception Act from last year, allocates $1,500 to the Student Health Center for the purposes of providing students with subsidized access to emergency contraceptives.  Prabhala announced that, after feedback from students about last year’s act, she plans on soliciting the opinions and fostering discussion across a wide array of student organizations, including pro-life groups.

Later in the meeting, SA Chief of Staff Loni Wright ’21 announced that the Outreach team is starting new social media campaigns for senators, including “Takeover Tuesday” and recap videos. Each Tuesday, a different senator will take over the SA Instagram page and document their day ending with the Senate meeting. Afterwards, the senator will be responsible for providing a short recap video, which will explain what senators discussed and accomplished during the meeting.

“We need to be centralized in how we move ahead in things.”

At the end of the meeting, SA President Anthony Joseph ’21 urged senators to focus on three main issues for the time being: racial injustice, COVID-19 and athletic cuts. He acknowledged that while all of the senators’ projects were important, he felt that SA should be united in emphasizing those main issues, as the shortened semester means that the executive branch needs help from the Senate in accomplishing their goals. 

“We need to be centralized in how we move ahead in things,” Joseph said. “This is not us trying to cut your wings off and tell you what to do, but in order for us to be successful as a team, and as a unit, this is what we must do…We need you now.  The College needs you now. So please, let’s get to work, because we do not have enough time.” 

Also at this week’s meeting:

  • Senators confirmed to the Review Board returning members Braeden Salazar ’21 and Jack Craver ’21, as well as new members Jake Beardsley ’21 and Courtney White J.D. ’22.
  • Boojala introduced the VIMS Liaison Act, which calls for the creation of a liaison position from the School of Marine Sciences. This liaison would be permitted to attend SA meetings and request privilege to speak, but would not have any voting privileges, as VIMS students do not pay the College’s Student Activities Fee.
  • Vasquez introduced the Memorial Art Display Act, which would allocate $900 to finance the art supplies for the upcoming student-created art memorial in Sadler Center.