Tuesday, Mar. 2, the College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly listened to a presentation from Interim Athletics Director Jeremy Martin, received the proposed 2021-22 SA Budget, introduced four new bills, confirmed a member of the Elections Commission and passed one bill.
Martin opened the meeting by discussing a new policy that would allow 1,000 students to attend football games in Zable stadium. He also added that the College is continuing its effort to evaluate the equity and integrity of its athletics program. By June, Martin explained, the College should release a gender equity review of athletics to help guide the College forward for the following year.
After Martin’s discussion, Finance Committee Chair Eugene Lee ’23 and Secretary of Finance Graham Pfeiffer ’21 introduced the 2021-22 SA Budget. The budget currently stands at $725,105, with a surplus of $5,367 that will roll over to next year.
Pfeiffer said that when drafting the budget, the Executive Appropriations Committee operated on the principles of fostering excellence and equity towards the funding of student organizations. The committee also focused on funding organizations that promoted teamwork, accessibility and representation of the College in a collaborative capacity, rather than organizations that focused on individual endeavors.
“We focused more on organizations that would be representing William and Mary in a team capacity, and that were accessible to all students and didn’t have barriers to entry,” Pfeiffer said.
The proposed budget has already gone through the appeals process, with four of the five student organizations who attended their hearings receiving more funds than originally proposed. The budget has also already been reviewed by the Finance Committee, and it will be reviewed by all committees ahead of next week’s vote.
Sen. Nick Matuszewski J.D. ’21 introduced the Speaker Condemnation Resolution, sponsored by Sen. Michael Martinez J.D. ’23. The resolution condemns the actions of the Christian Legal Society in inviting attorney Kevin Snider of the Pacific Justice Institute who gave a speech at the law school on Feb. 17.
The Pacific Justice Institute is recognized as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The resolution also condemns the actions and messaging of the Law School administration in response to the incident, including its communications that threatened students with possible conduct violations for their responses to the Christian Legal Society.
The resolution calls for the administration to review speaker guidelines and proposes that any student organizations who knowingly invite a member of a recognized hate group to campus will result in that organization losing their Student Activity Fee funding for the following budgetary year. It also calls on the Law School administration to “seriously consider the impact its messaging has on the student body.” The resolution will be voted on by the Senate next week.
Sen. Rory Fedorochko ’22 introduced the Wasson Code and Constitution Reform Act, a bill supported by former senator Will Wasson J.D. ’21. The 21-page bill is the first of two that will be introduced to the Senate regarding potential clarifying changes to the Code and Constitution, and many of the changes reflect the review of these documents made by Wasson while he was a member of the Senate.
Many of the potential changes include minor alterations to language or wording within the documents, but there are several more substantial changes, such as mandating that the reason for any Closed Session be written down and made public. Senators will vote on the bill next week.
Later, Sen. Peter Hayden M.B.A. ’21 introduced the Proper Conduct Pledge. This act heavily reforms Hayden’s earlier Anti-Discrimination Pledge Act, which was tabled Feb. 16 and later withdrawn, by removing language about discrimination and replacing it with language about respect, integrity, and trust.
This new pledge is not an official administrative effort, and would be administered to new undergraduate and graduate students by SA leaders during orientation, although the bill does call for the creation of a “Pledge Committee” to make this an official effort as well as a “Pledge Banner” that would be displayed on campus. The bill states that the taking of this pledge would go into effect ahead of the 2021-22 academic year.
The pledge reads:
“I, [state your name], pledge, on my honor, to refrain from acting in an inappropriate manner or encouraging acts of disrespect. I will strive to treat every person with respect and integrity, in order to preserve our community of belonging. I understand that acts of disrespect undermine the William and Mary community of trust of which we are all stewards.”
The pledge will come up for a vote next week.
Senators also confirmed Mason Liddell ’21 as a member of the Elections Commission. While Liddell began serving after his confirmation, senators were operating on the belief that only the Chair needed to be confirmed, which left other members of the Election Commission serving unconfirmed. When reviewing the SA Code and Constitution for the drafting of the Electoral Procedure Amendment Act, Chief of Staff Loni Wright ’21 and Sen. Owen Williams ’23 realized that these documents mandate that all members of the Election Commission, not just the Chair, must be confirmed by the Senate.
During his confirmation hearing, Liddell emphasized his efforts to begin using rank choice voting in SA elections. Liddell and the rest of the Elections Commission plan to implement the rank choice voting system for the offices of SA President, Vice President, class presidents and potentially class senators ahead of next month’s SA elections.
Also at this week’s meeting:
- Senators passed the Student Diversity and Inclusion Symposium Act, which allocates $250 from SA Reserves in order to fund a speech from intersectionality expert, author, and blogger Dr. A’tasha Christian at the recent Student Diversity and Inclusion Symposium.
- Sen. Helen Tariku ’21 introduced the Funding Survey Act, which would charge SA members (specifically the Secretary of Student Life) with participating in and promoting the upcoming survey about student perspectives on where alumni should focus their monetary donations.
Correction: This article was updated on Mar. 11, 2021. A previous version stated that Mason Liddell ’21 had been serving as an unconfirmed member of the Election Commission since last March. This statement is inaccurate—Liddell began serving after his confirmation on March 2, 2021.