SA passes three bills, reviews 2020 election outcomes

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EMMA FORD AND KIM LORES / THE FLAT HAT

Tuesday, April 7, the College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly passed three bills and received updates regarding last week’s SA elections. Senators also heard from the William and Mary Worker’s Union and were introduced to a resolution that would declare the body’s support for the union’s efforts.

Senators pass three bills

Senators unanimously passed the Spring Concert Postponement Bill, which allocates the same sum of money planned towards the annual Spring Concert for a rescheduled concert date. Currently, SA provides $40,000 towards the spring concert and AMP provides an additional $57,574 in funding.

The bill stipulates that if the concert is not rescheduled, then the $40,000 will return to SA’s reserves.

Sen. Derek Kernus ’14 M.B.A. ’20, who serves on the Spring Concert Subcommittee along with Class of 2021 President Aria Austin ’21 and Sen. Kyle Vasquez ’21, expressed frustration with what he saw as a lack of communication from AMP representatives about the concert’s future.

“I have not been happy with the way that AMP has communicated with Aria, Kyle, and myself about this concert,” Kernus said. “And if this bill is passed, I strongly suggest that you stay on top of them to make sure that you know what’s going on with this. At this point, my feeling on how AMP is treating us is like we’re just a bank account. And I’ve expressed my concerns and issues and really nothing has happened. I have heard people comment that they feel like we haven’t been telling SA what’s going on,’ but that’s because the truth is we don’t really know what’s going on until the last minute as well.”

Senators also passed the Street Smarts Act, which allocates $7,500 to cover half the costs of a new rapid flashing beacon, which will be installed outside of Richmond Hall at the intersection of Brooks Street and Richmond Road. The College has agreed to pay for the other half of the beacon’s expenses. The City of Williamsburg will install a new crosswalk at the intersection, and the city will be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the beacon and the crosswalk.

However, due to funding uncertainties caused by COVID-19, the College’s portion of the funding is somewhat uncertain. The agreement will expire if the College does not allocate its funds by the end of September.

Senators then unanimously passed the Solidarity with the Asian and Asian-American Communities Resolution, sponsored by Sens. Eugene Lee ’23, Maheen Saeed ’23 and Angela Tiangco ’20. The resolution condemns racial attacks and discrimination toward Asian and Asian-American communities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and affirms SA’s support for these communities.

As part of the resolution, SA will conduct an awareness campaign on social media, designate the third week of April as “Asian and Asian-American Solidarity Week” and call for collaboration with multicultural student organizations.

Senators hear about falling election turnout, Review Board cases

Earlier in the meeting, Elections Commission Chair Hank Hermens ’22 delivered a presentation about April 2’s SA elections. Hermens said that turnout for SA’s uncontested presidential race was just 19 percent, down from 47 percent in 2019’s SA presidential election. He said that he believed turnout declines originated from a lack of on-campus campaigning, an uncontested general election and less competitive races down-ballot races.

Hermens also discussed the two cases brought forth to SA’s Review Board for the class of 2021 presidential race and the class of 2023 senatorial contests. The Review Board determined that the Class of 2023 election was valid and that no special election would need to take place.

However, Hermens announced that the Review Board determined that the class of 2021’s presidential election was invalid since many students enrolled in study abroad programs were barred from voting until a couple hours before polls closed. Hermens announced that the special election would take place April 9.

Sen. Holly Grunter ’17 Ph.D ’22 leads presentation about Student Workers Union

Sen. Holly Gruntner ’17 Ph.D. ’22 then led a presentation about the Student Workers Union Resolution, which calls for SA to express support for the Student Workers Union and its platform. The union’s platform calls for university-subsidized healthcare for all full-time and graduate workers, living wages for salaried and hourly workers, affordable and accessible on-campus parking and accessibility in campus spaces and buildings.

Since Virginia is a right to work state, the union cannot formally bargain with the College or enter into legally binding contracts. If the resolution passes, SA will be calling upon the administration to include members of the union in discussions and decision-making processes regarding employee pay and benefits.

The resolution will be voted on next week.

Also at this week’s meeting:

  • Senators passed the Registered Student Organization Compensation Bill, which grants priority in next year’s student organization funding process to those organizations which already had secured funding for events this year prior to the closure of campus.
  • Joseph announced that Loni Wright ’21 will serve as his Chief of Staff when he becomes SA President April 20.