Gates to speak at Charter Day

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William and Mary News announced today that former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates ’65 will be invested as Chancellor of the College on Friday, February 3 at the College’s 2012 Charter Day celebration. Gates will also serve as keynote speaker of the event.

“This year’s Charter Day will be one to remember,” President Taylor Reveley said in a press release. “Not only will we get to celebrate William & Mary’s 319th birthday, but we will also welcome back to campus Secretary Gates, one of our most distinguished alumni, and install him as our next Chancellor.”

It was announced earlier this year that Gates would replace former Supreme Count Justice Sandra Day O’Connor as the 24th Chancellor of the College. Gates served under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, making him the first Secretary of Defense on the cabinet of a member of an opposing party. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the College in 1998 as well as the Alumni Medallion in 2000, the Alumni Association’s highest honor.

Professor Emeritus of Government James A. Bill will also be honored at the event and receive an honorary degree of doctor of humane letters. Bill served as the College’s first director of the Reves Center for International Studies from 1987 to 1998.

“As the founding director of the Reves Center, Jim Bill had a great impact on international education at William & Mary,” Reveley said.

Gates to speak at Charter Day

0

William and Mary News announced today that former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates ’65 will be invested as Chancellor of the College on Friday, February 3 at the College’s 2012 Charter Day celebration. Gates will also serve as keynote speaker of the event.

“This year’s Charter Day will be one to remember,” President Taylor Reveley said in a press release. “Not only will we get to celebrate William & Mary’s 319th birthday, but we will also welcome back to campus Secretary Gates, one of our most distinguished alumni, and install him as our next Chancellor.”

It was announced earlier this year that Gates would replace former Supreme Count Justice Sandra Day O’Connor as the 24th Chancellor of the College. Gates served under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, making him the first Secretary of Defense on the cabinet of a member of an opposing party. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the College in 1998 as well as the Alumni Medallion in 2000, the Alumni Association’s highest honor.

Professor Emeritus of Government James A. Bill will also be honored at the event and receive an honorary degree of doctor of humane letters. Bill served as the College’s first director of the Reves Center for International Studies from 1987 to 1998.

“As the founding director of the Reves Center, Jim Bill had a great impact on international education at William & Mary,” Reveley said.

Gates to speak at Charter Day

0

William and Mary News announced today that former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates ’65 will be invested as Chancellor of the College on Friday, February 3 at the College’s 2012 Charter Day celebration. Gates will also serve as keynote speaker of the event.

“This year’s Charter Day will be one to remember,” President Taylor Reveley said in a press release. “Not only will we get to celebrate William & Mary’s 319th birthday, but we will also welcome back to campus Secretary Gates, one of our most distinguished alumni, and install him as our next Chancellor.”

It was announced earlier this year that Gates would replace former Supreme Count Justice Sandra Day O’Connor as the 24th Chancellor of the College. Gates served under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, making him the first Secretary of Defense on the cabinet of a member of an opposing party. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the College in 1998 as well as the Alumni Medallion in 2000, the Alumni Association’s highest honor.

Professor Emeritus of Government James A. Bill will also be honored at the event and receive an honorary degree of doctor of humane letters. Bill served as the College’s first director of the Reves Center for International Studies from 1987 to 1998.

“As the founding director of the Reves Center, Jim Bill had a great impact on international education at William & Mary,” Reveley said.

City receives exemption

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After 46 years, the City of Williamsburg and James City County are no longer subject to special federal oversight of voting and election practices mandated by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The U.S. District Court in Washington issued Williamsburg and James City County separate consent decrees in early November, releasing the regions from the U.S. Department of Justice’s supervision over voting and election practices in the county.

“I was confident that [the] Court would sign the consent decree. James City County clearly met the criteria identified in the Federal Code to eliminate the preclearance requirement,” James City County attorney Leo Rogers said in an email. “I knew when the suit was filed September that USDOJ would endorse a consent decree with the Court. With both parties in agreement, the Court reviewed the record to make sure it met the Code and then entered the Consent Order.”

Under the preclearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, certain states and jurisdictions were subject to federal scrutiny any time voting or election practices altered. The preclearance requirement, which applied to nine states, primarily southern, with paths colored by discrimination like Virginia’s, was aimed to suppress voter disenfranchisement.

For Rogers, this requirement most recently translated into seeking federal permission for using handicapped accessible voting machines. Before that, the preclearance requirement charged debates over Virginia’s redistricting. Virginia’s election cycle made it one of the first states subject to the Voting Rights Act to redistrict, and it applied 2010 census data to redraw the maps. These new maps then had to go through the Department of Justice, a step which placed racial concerns at the center of the General Assembly redistricting debates.

Rogers noted that the exemption saves money and time by not requiring citizens to submit stacks of documents for review and wait approximately 90 days for Department of Justice approval. Rogers began the application for exemption for James City County in late 2010.

The consent decree follows a year-long investigation by the Department of Justice into voting and election practices in the area, where a lack of specific complaints and a decade’s worth of non-discriminatory practices helped pave the way to Williamsburg and James City County’s exemption.

“Prior to filing the action in Court, the County worked with U.S. Department of Justice on its investigation,”
Rogers said in an email. “USDOJ gave its approval to the County in August 2011.”

Williamsburg and James City County jointly submitted a consent decree to the federal court in September.

“The City and County worked together on this process, but of course filed separate applications with USDOJ and the Court,” Rogers said in an email.

Williamsburg and James City County’s actions are part of a larger trend of states seeking to be “bailed out” of the preclearance requirement. James City County is one of 14 other Virginia counties and four other Virginia cities seeking exemption.

The court retains jurisdiction of the cases for 10 years. If any future problems arise, James City County and Williamsburg could be subject to the preclearance requirement again. All other mandates of the act still apply to those areas exempted from the preclearance requirement.

City receives exemption

0

After 46 years, the City of Williamsburg and James City County are no longer subject to special federal oversight of voting and election practices mandated by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The U.S. District Court in Washington issued Williamsburg and James City County separate consent decrees in early November, releasing the regions from the U.S. Department of Justice’s supervision over voting and election practices in the county.

“I was confident that [the] Court would sign the consent decree. James City County clearly met the criteria identified in the Federal Code to eliminate the preclearance requirement,” James City County attorney Leo Rogers said in an email. “I knew when the suit was filed September that USDOJ would endorse a consent decree with the Court. With both parties in agreement, the Court reviewed the record to make sure it met the Code and then entered the Consent Order.”

Under the preclearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, certain states and jurisdictions were subject to federal scrutiny any time voting or election practices altered. The preclearance requirement, which applied to nine states, primarily southern, with paths colored by discrimination like Virginia’s, was aimed to suppress voter disenfranchisement.

For Rogers, this requirement most recently translated into seeking federal permission for using handicapped accessible voting machines. Before that, the preclearance requirement charged debates over Virginia’s redistricting. Virginia’s election cycle made it one of the first states subject to the Voting Rights Act to redistrict, and it applied 2010 census data to redraw the maps. These new maps then had to go through the Department of Justice, a step which placed racial concerns at the center of the General Assembly redistricting debates.

Rogers noted that the exemption saves money and time by not requiring citizens to submit stacks of documents for review and wait approximately 90 days for Department of Justice approval. Rogers began the application for exemption for James City County in late 2010.

The consent decree follows a year-long investigation by the Department of Justice into voting and election practices in the area, where a lack of specific complaints and a decade’s worth of non-discriminatory practices helped pave the way to Williamsburg and James City County’s exemption.

“Prior to filing the action in Court, the County worked with U.S. Department of Justice on its investigation,”
Rogers said in an email. “USDOJ gave its approval to the County in August 2011.”

Williamsburg and James City County jointly submitted a consent decree to the federal court in September.

“The City and County worked together on this process, but of course filed separate applications with USDOJ and the Court,” Rogers said in an email.

Williamsburg and James City County’s actions are part of a larger trend of states seeking to be “bailed out” of the preclearance requirement. James City County is one of 14 other Virginia counties and four other Virginia cities seeking exemption.

The court retains jurisdiction of the cases for 10 years. If any future problems arise, James City County and Williamsburg could be subject to the preclearance requirement again. All other mandates of the act still apply to those areas exempted from the preclearance requirement.

Debit card fees cancelled

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Proposed monthly usage fees for debit cards, which were proposed by Bank of America and other financial institutions, have been abandoned after intense public backlash.

The bank fees, which were developed to compensate for lost revenue as a result of new banking regulations, were vigorously opposed by students and other debit card users. As a result of the banks’ abandonment of the fees, students and debit card users feel empowered.

Elaine McBeth, economics lecturer and associate director of the Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy at the College of William and Mary, weighed in on the reasons why the banks deserted the debit cards fees.

“They dropped the fees likely because of protests and the fear of clients leaving them for credit unions,” McBeth said.

Assistant professor of economics Till Schreiber agreed that public backlash was a primary motivator for banks to remove these new fees. He also postulated that these fees may have been a ploy by the banks to influence policymakers — which backfired.

“Many people, and I believe rightly so, were very angry at the big banks who … were seen as being too greedy,” Schreiber said. “But [the fees] were also something of a blackmail tool, a message from the banks to the government saying, ‘If you pinch our funds, we will make up our funds elsewhere in a manner that could hurt the public opinion of policymakers [who the banks blamed for the necessity of the fee].’ But this move to possibly influence policymakers became a public policy nightmare.”

McBeth also questioned the alleged necessity of the banks to establish these fees.

“The real question was: do the banks really need these fees to survive or were they pursuing an opportunity to make extra profit?”
McBeth said. “Potentially, to make up for the loss of money, the banks could have staffed less bankers or staffed them less frequently because the users of debit cards tend to bank electronically. They had other options.”

McBeth and Schreiber both agreed that students are more likely to use debit cards than other consumers, so if the fees had continued, students would have been disproportionately negatively affected.

“Students use debit cards more, don’t tend to carry cash on them, and make small, frequent purchases,” McBeth said. “[The fee], in a sense, was a regressive tax on the lower income folks — like students — who were disproportionately charged for their primary means of using their money. Removal of these fees means now that the students may be disproportionately benefitted … because alternate [mechanisms] for the banks to gain money is likely to affect them less.”

Schreiber agreed that students would have been unequally affected, but he believed the banks would probably have waived debit card fees for students to capture their loyalty.

“If the fees had stayed, banks likely would have waived fees [for students] to attract them away from their competitors, the credit unions,” Schreiber said. “Because college graduates are more likely to earn more money in their lifetime, the banks would have wanted to secure these students as lifelong clients early because you’re more likely to divorce your spouse than divorce your lifelong bank. Keeping student loyalty ends up being profitable for banks.”

It appears this move by the banks to undo some of the damages to client relationships is working, and students appear to feel less alienated and used by their banks.

“I am very happy that the banks decided to drop the fees,” Sukyoung Kim ’13, an exchange student and SunTrust customer, said. “It makes me more eager to continue a relationship in the future with them.”

Engineers spend most time studying, survey says

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If students want to spend their college years lazily meandering through school, a recent National Survey of Student Engagement suggests that the engineering path might not be for them.

According to the study, engineering majors study for an average of 19 hours per week, more than any other major, compared to an average of 15 hours per week for undergraduate students across all majors.

It also found that business and social science majors study the least, approximately 14 hours per week. The study was conducted last spring and surveyed 416,000 students at 673 four-year colleges in the United States.

A potential reason for the difference may be that students in majors like engineering are using their college education as a direct way to prepare for their careers.

As a result, they are studying their fields in greater detail than students in more general fields.

“Engineering disciplines … require a lot of technical depth,” mathematics professor Michael Lewis said.
“You’re expected to be a functioning engineer. They want you to be able to work right away … [As an English major entering the workforce], you’re going to be doing something other than analyzing literature.”

Students who major in social sciences may not know what their careers will be when they enter the workforce, and the fact that their career goals are not as firm may correlate to less study time.

“[Social science majors give students] more flexibility and a time for sorting things out,” psychology professor Larry Ventis said. “[Some are] not as single-minded in focusing on mastering the material.”

Social science majors do not just study less than other majors — they also fail to meet professor expectations to a greater degree than other majors, according to the survey.

While social science majors study 14 hours per week, their professors expect them to study 18 hours per week.

But Ventis disagreed with the survey’s finding, believing that the survey results do not reflect social science majors who are truly serious about their work.

“In terms of my interactions with students, I don’t think that’s true,” Ventis said. “There are people who are very focused [who] study a tremendous amount. The more people have a clear sense of direction … the more effectively they devote their time to [studying].”

Business majors are tied with social science majors for reporting the least study time.

“Thing one, I’m not sure they do [study less],” business professor James Smith said. “Thing two, I have high expectations for my students and that necessitates studying … They definitely have to prepare for class and exams and things like that.”

Many are skeptical about the study’s findings in general, and more specifically, about how the findings relate to the College.

“I’m always wary of applying these national studies to what’s going on at William and Mary,” Lewis said. “[Students at the College] have a lot of other things going on … If you’re at a hard-core engineering school there may not be so much of that.”

Another concern is how accurate these numbers are due to students’ measurements of study time.

“My biggest concern would be how they [go about researching] the amount of time [spent studying],” physics professor William Cooke said.

In addition, the survey only measures students’ initial effort without comparing the results of that effort.

“[The survey] seems to have measured an input variable [study time],” business professor Scott McCoy said in an email. “What might be more telling would be an output measure, such as achievement or performance.

In the case of business students at W&M, they are constantly being recognized for their academic success, including winning competitions, obtaining highly sought after internships and permanent employment positions, and going onto graduate programs at top-tier universities.”

Decreased campus water bottle sales

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Fewer students are quenching their thirst at the vending machines.

David Walker, the Pepsi Co. representative to the College of William and Mary, reported a 7 percent decrease in water bottle purchases from June to October this year. During those weeks, 48,893 water bottles were purchased, which is a little more than 368 water bottles per day. This is significantly lower than the number
of water bottles purchased just a year ago.

The College’s Associate Director of Auxiliary Services Wade Henley reported that approximately 394 water
bottles per day were purchased around the same time in 2010.

A number of reasons have been proposed for the decrease in water bottle purchases, but many students agree that increasing monetary and environmental concerns led to the reduced demand for bottled water.

“People have become aware that buying plastic water bottles is not good for the environment and that reusing bottles is a healthier option,” Elizabeth Ostick ’14 said. “It is better for the environment to buy a Camelbak and keep refilling it rather than throwing away, or even recycling, plastic bottles.”

Reusable water bottles aren’t the only alternative. Water containers with built-in filtration, designed by companies like Brita, are becoming a popular choice.

“I used to drink a lot of bottled water until I realized how much plastic that wasted. I still drink the same amount of water, but I decided to invest in a Brita filter and a steel water bottle as opposed to continuing wasting resources,” Meha Semwal ’14 said.

“The availability of fresh water all over campus such as water fountains contributes to the fact that there is no need to spend money on water,” Davey Chadwick ’15. “Also, a lot more people are carrying around plastic water bottles than ever before as more people are health conscious than they were 10 years ago. At the same time, these water bottles cut back on overall global waste that plastic bottles create.”

Rasik Winfield ’15 noted that bottled water does not always live up to its supposed benefits.

“The water that is in those Dasani bottles or Aquafina bottles and especially some off-brand bottles is not necessarily any healthier or more pure than what we get out of the tap,” he said. “I don’t really have high standards when it comes to the taste of water.”

A campaign against bottled water, called “I’d Tap That,” offered three samples of water to hundreds of students on the Sadler Center Terrace. The samples were Fiji water, tap water and generic bottled water. The students who tried all three samples were asked to identify the source that each sample of water came from.
Of the 150 students who drank the water, 29 guessed all three samples correctly and won T-shirts. The majority of students were not able to differentiate among the samples.

“Only 29 people guessed correctly, but everyone wanted a shirt, so we ended up giving away a bunch,” campaign creator Corbett Drummey ’12 said on his blog.

Although it doesn’t have a specific focus on water bottle reduction, the College’s Student Environmental Action Coalition works on similar projects for environment protection and sustainability.

“We can’t take credit for the decrease, but there’s an interest in the reducing aspect,” SEAC historian Eric Dale ’14 said. “Recycling is better than nothing, but it’s down-cycling because the recycled items become less pure.”

More and more, students are questioning whether buying water is comopletely necessary.

“If you are lucky enough to live in a place that has drinkable water from the tap, just drink it from the tap,” Matt Sniff ’15 said.

SA funds permanent place for library massage chairs

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The Student Assembly held its last meeting of the semester Tuesday, approving four pieces of business and confirming three new members of the Public Affairs committee.

Sen. Grace Colby ’13 announced that the Hindu Student Association exceeded its previously approved budget for the Diwali event due to unexpected catering costs. The association asked the Student Assembly to retroactively fund the difference, amounting to about $200. Some senators spoke out against retroactively funding the association.

“Retroactive funding is not something we normally do,” Colby said. “[The Finance Committee] felt that it was an oversight by the club.”

A majority of senators, however, felt that the association did not need to be punished for the mistake.

“It’s not really our place to punish student organizations for their missteps,” Sen. Ben Huber ’12 said.
In the end, the SA voted in favor of allocating the necessary funds to cover the unforeseen costs for the association.

The SA also passed the Chillaxin’ All the Time Act, which allocates $6,000 from the Student Activities Reserve to fund the rental and running of four massage chairs in Swem for the next calendar year.

The massage chairs will be free to students.

“Last year we had massage chairs in Swem for $10,000 during finals,” McNerney said in an email. “I worked with Campus Massage, the company that we rented them from last year, and negotiated the price. The Student Assembly will now be renting massage chairs in Swem for the entire year for $6,000. This was a highly popular program last year so I’m glad that we will be continuing it. In a survey last year more than 90% of people said they wanted to have them continued.”

The SA also unanimously passed the Tables, Chairs, and Van Training Act, providing $2,000 for chairs and tables for student events and $3,320 for van training for students.

“This bill pays for things students use like tables and chairs at their activities and van training,” Colby said.

Next, the SA unanimously approved the Student Organization Outreach Act, implementing changes to the Student Assembly Code in order to monitor where student organizations spend the funds they are given more effectively.

This act only affects student organizations that receive more than 25 percent of the annual budget, which currently pertains only to AMP.

“We’re more interested in seeing how money is being spent as you go rather than the planning process,” Colby said.

The SA also unanimously confirmed Keenan Kelley ’14 as the new Secretary of Public Affairs, Zach Woodward ’14 as the new Undersecretary of Voter Registration Events and Initiatives and Alison Roberts ’15 as the new Deputy Undersecretary of Voter Registration Events and Initiatives.

College creates new source of funding

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The College of William and Mary is going to get a bit more creative next year.

In late November, Provost Michael R. Halleran sent out a memo to College faculty announcing the creation of the Creative Adaptation Fund.

“The College will make available $200,000 for [fiscal year 2012-13]…to engage and unleash the creative energy in the academic areas to develop creative adaptations that improve the quality of our educational programs either directly or indirectly, by reducing costs or generating new revenues and thereby providing funds that can be reinvested in people and programs,” Halleran said.

The College expects similar investments to be made over the course of the next two years.

The fund aims to respond to economic challenges with creative solutions to avoid undercutting the College’s academic rigor. Although the College will likely make a slight reduction in instructional faculty to save money in the short-term, its broader goal is to support innovative ways to generate revenue, Halleran said.

“We all recognize that the economy and higher education are going through a period of unusual change and that our success depends on a common effort towards a common goal — strengthening the essence of the College and preparing our students through the best education possible to thrive in the twenty-first century,” Halleran said.

The Creative Adaptation Fund is open to schools, departments or individual faculty involved in instruction and research. Although members of the administration may be involved in these projects, they cannot be the leading effort behind them.

Although the College is setting aside $200,000 in total for the fund, the budget of any individual project cannot exceed $50,000 and most awards will probably be for lesser amounts, Halleran said.

Halleran said that he expects the fund to attract a wide variety of efforts.

“The parameters are broad: projects that improve the quality of the education we provide, either directly or indirectly,” he said. “One idea that has been mentioned to me informally is a more effective way to teach an introductory social science class. But the only real limits to the projects are imagination and energy.”

Savings gathered through fund initiatives will be reinvested in academic programs and increased faculty compensation.

Instead of being funneled back up to the administration, most of the revenue generated by these initiatives will go back to the school which created it.

Proposals are required to include a clear statement of the project’s methodology and its expected impact in terms of educational quality or cost savings.

Applications for the Creative Adaptation Fund are due Jan. 16, 2012. A committee will review proposals for various fund awards by mid-February.

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