March 12, the College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly held their first meeting since campaign season kicked off Sunday, March 10. At the meeting, senators discussed inaccuracies in SA’s constitution and debated updates on traffic safety at the College.
At the beginning of the meeting, SA Historian and Sen. Jack Bowden ’19 delivered a presentation regarding old bills he uncovered that were not enforced in SA’s Constitution. These bills were both passed by the senate and signed by the President of SA in years they were respectively passed, theoretically making them binding constitutional statutes.
According to Bowden, the 322nd Senate passed the Equal Representation Act Part Two in 2015. The act was a response to the then-Senate’s decision to eliminate the Undergraduate Council and instead incorporate class officers into the Senate, while simultaneously granting them voting rights.
In response to the incorporation of class officers into the Senate, members of the 2015 graduate council were concerned that the College’s graduate population would be insufficiently represented in SA. The Equal Representation Act Part Two would add an additional senator from the College’s graduate school and states that a Graduate Council Representative and an Executive representative should attend all Executive Cabinet and Graduate Council meetings respectively.
“I wondered, god, what else could there be that needs to be added to our constitution that we haven’t done and haven’t recognized,” Bowden said.
The initial version of the Equal Representation Act in 2013 also included a statement about the disproportionate representation of women in SA.
The 322nd Senate also passed a Gender-Neutral Constitution Act in 2014, which sought to reduce gender bias within SA’s code.
In 2013, the 320th Senate passed the first version of the Equal Representation Act which discussed SA’s disproportionate makeup. According to the act, male senators then outnumbered female senators at an 8 to 1 ratio, despite women making up more than half of the campus population.
The act called for this data to be included on the ballot, so students could be cognizant of the gender imbalances on SA when electing their representatives.
Neither the Gender-Neutral Constitution Act nor the Equal Representation Act Part One and Two were written into SA’s current Constitution.
Associate Director of Student Leadership Development Trici Frederick explained that the failure to incorporate some of these acts into the Constitution was not intentional, but that it resulted from the older version of the Constitution being lost in SA records.
“We’ve lost a copy of the constitution, so it’s not that these things have never been implemented.” Frederick said. “Somewhere along the way, this all was edited, I don’t know where it is. But all of this was edited. It’s inaccurate to say that we’ve never done this. We just don’t have the most updated copies of the code and constitution.”
Also at the meeting, Sen. Jessica Seidenberg ’19 gave a presentation on the current state of SA’s financial affairs in which she stated that this year’s senate has spent about $17,000 more than the average Senate (partly due to the fact that SA contributed $115,000 toward the spring concert this year, where in the past, it has contributed only about $50,000).
Following this presentation, Class of 2019 President Sikander Zakriya ’19, Class of 2020 President Kelsey Vita ’20, Class of 2021 President David DeMarco ’21 and Class of 2022 President Suhas Suddala ’22 gave a presentation summarizing the findings of the traffic safety survey that was distributed to their respective classes. Student responses indicated strong support for creating a new crosswalk on Jamestown Rd. across from Phi Beta Kappa Hall, placing a new flashing beacon at Confusion Corner and erecting more lights alongside the College’s several trail paths.
Sen. Margaret Lister ’21 introduced The Rapid Flashing Beacon Act, which is co-sponsored aby Bowden. After five months of development, the bill allocates up to $15,000 from SA Reserves for the purchase and installation of two new rapid flashing beacons: one along Jamestown Rd. near Campus Center, and the other along Richmond Rd. near Sorority Court. The College has agreed to pay for the remaining cost of $9,000 and has committed to providing financial resources for the beacons’ future maintenance and upkeep.
During the announcements and comments section of the meeting, Bowden expressed that some of his constituents were displeased with the amount of money spent securing this year’s spring concert acts. Misterwives, Daya and Ari Lennox are scheduled to perform at the College’s annual spring concert Friday, March 29.
Sen. Kyle Vasquez ’21, who was on the joint SA and AMP spring concert planning committee, responded that the artist choice was primarily up to AMP.
“For the future, SA needs to come in stronger…we were forced to sit back while AMP went full force,” Vasquez said.
The meeting ended with comments from Vita and DeMarco, who are currently campaigning for the position of SA President. Vita and DeMarco both formally announced their campaigns to the Senate and thanked everyone for their support thus far. They emphasized the importance of running positive campaigns, and pledged to avoid the contentious atmosphere created by past SA presidential contests.
“I don’t think campaigns have to be toxic. It’s healthier for us as a body when we can work together during this time,” Vita said.
DeMarco shared Vita’s sentiments and felt that campaigns can be conducted with mutual respect.
“We’re the future of leadership, this is how it can be,” DeMarco agreed.
Also at this week’s meeting:
- Menstrual product dispensers for the women’s bathrooms on campus will be ordered Monday, March 18, fulfilling the goals of The . Act sponsored by Senate Chair Ellie Thomas ’20.
- Thomas also introduced The Dairy Vehicular Act Part V Act, which would allocate $2,000 from SA Reserves to provide free ice cream from an ice cream truck on the College’s annual Day for Admitted Students April 13.