Tuesday’s Student Assembly senate meeting focused on the SA investigation into the off-campus fund from which former SA Vice President Zach Pilchen ’09 misused funds.
Sen. Walter McClean ’09 responded to what he called “attacks” on SA members from campus media. McClean explained that no more information will be shared until the investigation concludes Sept. 30.
“Members of the SA finance community should not comment on an ongoing investigation,” he said, reading from a prepared statement. McClean added that the phrase “declined to comment” in campus media should not be seen as evidence of a “massive conspiracy, but rather a desire to preserve the integrity of the investigation.”
McClean’s comments were in reference to a recent Flat Hat staff editorial questioning the investigation. He did not mention The Flat Hat by name.
“The cruelest reality is that some of the hardest working and most honorable people I know are being condemned for not remembering single transactions,” McClean said.
In other business, the senate confirmed three new SA secretaries. Sravya Yeleswarapu ’10 was confirmed as undersecretary to the BOV, David Witkowsky ’11 as secretary of public affairs and Antonio M. Elias ’09 as undersecretary to Richmond. Elias, who has worked in Richmond before, will be responsible for representing student opinion and interests to the state legislature, which provides approximately 18 percent of the College of William and Mary’s budget. The three were confirmed unanimously.
The AED Act returned to the senate for a conclusive vote, after having been tabled last week. Concerns over the methods used by Sen. Ben Brown ’11 to choose locations for the devices were addressed by a minor change in the wording of the bill. The placement of the devices is now subject to the approval of the Department of Environmental Health and Safety. The act passed in its revised form 14-1-0.
Two bills were presented for future consideration. The William and Mary Police Behavior Act, sponsored by Sens. Steven Nelson ’10 and Michael Douglass ’11, calls for the creation of a website with information about the College’s police force. According to Nelson, the website would, ideally, contain pictures, names and badge numbers of campus officers. Nelson noted that a website with such information would “be perfectly legal.”
McClean introduced The Virginia Gazette Act, which would make the Gazette available on campus free of charge to students. Access to the paper would be valuable, McClean said, because the Gazette frequently discusses campus issues.
During public comment, Sen. Matt Beato ’09 and Douglass expressed concerns about media coverage. Douglass called Flat Hat coverage a “cheap shot,” which he later clarified.
“I believe that The Flat Hat took a cheap shot by writing an article that implies that both Andrew Blasi and Zach Pilchen have something to hide,” Douglass said later. “Zach honorably resigned and owned up to his mistakes, and Andrew has not — to my knowledge — been implicated in any way, at any time in this investigation.”
Beato felt the coverage did not accurately represent the SA.
“I don’t think that people realize that most of the work done by the senators takes place outside of the meetings themselves,” Beato said. He stressed the need for an adequate representation of SA activities, calling for “a way to make sure that [SA work] gets heard in the press and the media.”