The Student Assembly senate passed a bill Tuesday night that will help fund a student internship program with the Virginia General Assembly.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Sarah Rojas ’10, allocates $940 specifically to reimburse drivers who will transport students from Williamsburg to Richmond for a program conceived by Antonio Elias ’09, SA undersecretary of public affairs for Richmond.
Rojas said that the program, though technically academic, should be considered an SA concern.
“We’re doing this for the experience for the undergrads but also so we can get a big presence [in Richmond],” which she said would increase the College of William and Mary’s influence in the legislature.
Sen. Walter McClean ’09 supported the bill, noting that interns in Richmond perform “a valuable service for [the] Student Assembly,” keeping the SA up to date with developments in the GA.
“I think that we’re getting more than our money’s worth,” McClean said.
Several senators questioned whether funding for the program was an SA responsibility.
“[The SA’s] task is to make things happen that would not happen otherwise without our subsidizing them,” Sen. Matt Pinsker ’09 said. “This internship to Richmond is going to happen with or without our financial assistance, so we’re not needed to make it happen.”
Pinsker also asked whether or not funding this program could commit the SA to funding future academic programs.
“I’m worried about the precedent we’re setting, choosing which [programs] are going to get subsidized,” he said.
Rojas responded to Pinsker’s concerns by noting that the bill provides for a one-time payment only.
“I don’t think that we’re setting a precedent that we’re sponsoring programs that are going to go on for years and years,” Rojas said.
The bill passed 19-0-2.
The senate also considered the Serving Williamsburg Act, sponsored by McClean, which would create a Williamsburg Service Fund with $10,000 from the SA reserves. The money would provide funding for community service events organized by College students, provided that several guidelines are met. Ideally, the large fund would persist through the foreseeable future — a prospect that McClean considers likely.
“I would almost guarantee that I will not be around when this runs out,” McClean said.
Sen. Steven Nelson ’10 expressed his concern that the fund might be used to provide for students attempting to fulfill their Alpha Phi Omega community service requirement.
McClean agreed, but said that he “would hate to see Campus Kitchens get removed from possibility because one of their members is in APO and is doing hours this way.”
The bill passed unanimously.
Several bills were presented for future consideration. The Opposition to Decreasing the Quality of the College Act, sponsored by Sens. Matt Beato, Michael Douglass ’11, Tom Flaherty ’12 and Ross Gillingham ’10 is a response to recent efforts in the GA to increase the percentage of in-state students at Virginia public universities.
The bill would require the sponsors, as well as SA President Valerie Hopkins ’09, to send letters opposing the GA legislation to the various members of the House of Delegates Education Committee.
The Eating Disorder Program Promotion Act, sponsored by Sen. Brittany Fallon ’11, would allocate funds for the creation of pamphlets intended to educate students about available programs for dealing with eating disorders, as well as diagnoses for various eating disorders. These pamphlets would be available in the Health Center and throughout campus during “Love Your Body Week.”
The GPS and Steer Clear Repair Act, by Sens. Ben Brown ’11 and McClean, would give up to $800 to buy three GPS devices to be kept in the Student Activities Office.
These devices would be available to students driving Student Activities vans. The bill would also request that the Student Activities Office promptly repair the Steer Clear vans.
The Collegiate Readership Act, sponsored by Douglass, was also introduced.