Tuesday, March 30, at the end of the College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly meeting, SA President Anthony Joseph ’21 announced that after an intense meeting between the executive team, Provost and members of the administration, the College decided to maintain their stance on not expanding the pass/fail policy during the spring 2021 semester. Joseph added that even with the planned SA referendum taking place, the decision by the administration will remain final.
“I’m here to inform you that pass/fail is not going to change,” Joseph said. “We made our disagreement clear, we are at an impasse with that decision, albeit we have made them acknowledge that the stress is high, that the emotional exhaustion is high, that the tiredness is high and that they need to work on remedies to that as soon as possible if they’re not coming in the mode of pass/fail.”
“We made our disagreement clear, we are at an impasse with that decision, albeit we have made them acknowledge that the stress is high, that the emotional exhaustion is high, that the tiredness is high and that they need to work on remedies to that as soon as possible if they’re not coming in the mode of pass/fail.”
Joseph emphasized that even though the pass/fail policy will not change, SA still plans to support students.
“I just wanted to reaffirm to students that we hear you, and we’re feeling the same things,” Joseph said. “I feel the stress and the struggle that every student is feeling. I feel that clearly, we feel that clearly, and we want you to know that we did what we could and that it didn’t fall on deaf ears, because I know a lot of you think that Student Assembly can do a better job of representing you, and I think we’re still looking for ways to improve and I think that’s absolutely right, but we did the best that we could today.”
Joseph, SA Vice President Kyle Vasquez ’21 and Chief of Staff Loni Wright ’21 all expressed their displeasure with the decision, citing how this semester and the increasing level of COVID-19 cases on campus has affected them personally.
Vasquez noted that he, Joseph and Wright also felt personally disheartened by the decision, as it was the first time in their term that they did not emerge with a victory, especially one that they felt was so critical for the student body. Joseph added that they informed College officials that their decision to not expand pass/fail required the administration to put forth further efforts to boost student morale.
In addition to discussing pass/fail, Vasquez called out a recent tweet he saw over the weekend that stated that SA executives did not allow senators to attend the Sunday, March 28 Black Lives Matter Protest. Vasquez stated that neither he nor any member of the administration made such a statement, and he called for the senator who spread such a rumor to reevaluate their decision, expressing how dangerous such rumors can be. He clarified that the executive team is supportive and encouraging of any senator who chooses to attend the protests.
“At the end of the day, you are all autonomous adults as you please, you can do as you want,” Vasquez said. “The only thing I ask is that you remember you signed up for a role, and your role comes with responsibilities… The role of Student Assembly is to voice the opinions and concerns and wants of students. That’s why we’re here, that’s why we do our job, there’s no other reason for it.”
Senators unanimously passed the Community Values Pledge Act, sponsored by Sen. Peter Hayden M.B.A. ’21. The Community Values Pledge will be a student-led pledge that attempts to establish a community of respect among students. The pledge will be administered by SA leaders, independent of the administration, as part of a new orientation experience for both undergraduate and graduate students.
The pledge reads as follows:
“I, [state your name], recognizing the words of the Compassionate Action Charter of which W&M is a member and that W&M is a community of deep interdependence and human connection, pledge to honor the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute integrity, equity and respect. I pledge to treat every person with dignity and empathy, and to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity in order to preserve our shared W&M values.”
The act also creates a SA Community Values Pledge subcommittee with the hopes that the subcommittee can work with administration for future collaboration on the pledge.
The senate also unanimously passed the Street Smarts Revival Act, sponsored by Senate Chair Meghana Boojala ’22. The act allocates no more than $16,000 from SA reserves to fund the full cost of a rapid flashing beacon in front of Richmond Hall. The College has committed to reimbursing SA half the cost of the beacon at the beginning of the next fiscal year in July, and the City of Williamsburg is charged with maintenance and upkeep of the flashing beacon.
Earlier in the meeting, Class of 2021 President Aria Austin ’21 introduced the Divest from Fossil Fuels Revival Resolution, which serves as a renewal of last session’s Divest from Fossil Fuels Resolution. The resolution would serve as a call to the administration to divest any financial interests from fossil fuel companies in order to eliminate the “endowment’s exposure to carbon-intensive companies.” The resolution would demand that these withdrawals be made within the next five years and calls for transparency from the administration during this process. It also proposes that reinvestment be made into ventures that support BIPOC communities.
Also at this week’s meeting:
- Senators unanimously passed the Pronoun Pin Act, which allocates $293 from the SA Reserves for the purchase of pronoun pins during the College’s Pride Week, and the A Cappella Benefit Concert Funding Act, which allocates $250 for the renting of the Martha Wren Briggs Amphitheatre during the A Cappella Council’s upcoming virtual benefit concert.
- The Senate unanimously passed the Liaison Code Reform Act, which alters the SA Code so that SA can temporarily establish Ad Hoc Liaison positions in the event that context or insight is needed from groups outside of SA on special matters.
- Sen. Helen Tariku ’21 and Class of 2024 President Vicka Heidt ’24 introduced the Sustainability Symposium Act, which allocates $540 from SA Reserves in order to fund closed captioning for the live speakers at the Department of Sustainability’s Earth Week Symposium on Apr. 21.
- Sen. Mia Tilman ’24 introduced the 329 Inauguration Rental Chairs Act, which allocates $375 from SA Reserves to fund the rental of 60 chairs for the outdoor SA inauguration on Apr. 19.