At the first official meeting of the College of William and Mary’s 329th Student Assembly, senators introduced four new bills and unanimously passed four additional bills. Additionally senators discussed the rising COVID-19 cases and concerns raised by the student body.
Of the four passed bills, senators approved funding for the Sankofa Legacy Fest to commemorate the Sankofa Seed Sculpture and the history, present and future of the Black members of the College community. Sponsored by Sen. Shaunna Scott ’23, the event aims to present arts from the African Diaspora including poetry, dance, visual arts, history and live performances.
Scott also introduced the Reggie Williams Act, which proposes that SA allocate $1,000 towards an honorarium for Reggie Williams, who will be visiting campus and hosting a book signing Thursday, Oct. 7. Williams is a former National Football League player who was the first African-American All-American linebacker in Ivy League history and has gone on to establish sports businesses and write a memoir.
English and Humanities Professor Henry Hart is hoping to present him with a $10,000 honorarium from different groups across campus to show appreciation for his visit, and Scott’s bill proposes that SA cover a tenth of that cost. The bill will be voted on next week.
Later in the meeting, Class of 2023 President Conor Sokolowsky ’23 introduced the Sprint Week Act, which designates the week of Oct. 4 as the “SA Sprint Week.” During this week, students will be able to submit idea proposals in-person or through a Google form for potential sponsorship or funding through a SA bill or initiative.
Ideas will be evaluated by the Student Life Committee, which will select which proposals to bring to the Senate. Senators will then be responsible for managing that bill and securing its execution. These projects will be funded out of a $5,000 allocation that will be utilized until it is depleted or through the end of the semester.
At the end meeting, senators raised concerns over the College’s 5:54 p.m. email regarding the rise in COVID-19 cases among the student population as well as changes to the College’s masking, dining and event gathering guidelines.
SA President Meghana Boojala ’22 addressed the concerns among senators and emphasized the importance of SA remaining vigilant in keeping up to date with emerging policies from the College. Sen. Sailor Miao ’24 reminded senators that leading by example could also set a precedent and help ease fears among the student body.
Boojala also addressed recent dissatisfaction among the Williamsburg community with off-campus student housing arrangements. In particular, the community expressed concerns over students who waive the Williamsburg three-person rule, a law that does not allow more than three unrelated people on a lease. The waiver, community members believe, allows too many students to live in one living arrangement, causing disruption in the neighborhoods. The City Council is currently voting on whether to suspend the granting of this waiver in the future.
“The school has been aware of that, and already has long-term plans in place to make off-campus living better for us,” Boojala said. “We’re not totally screwed, and our tone is not one of our anger, it’s more of just requesting the residents of the City to be more respectful of student life. So we’re talking about the options of four-person houses are more affordable for us, or that they provide ways for us to access things on campus while having more flexibility, or that we’re good members of the community – we volunteer, we do things, we’re generally nice…we’re just conveying that to the residents and getting students involved in local politics.”
Also at this week’s meeting:
- Senators unanimously passed the 9/11 Wreath Funding Act, which allocates $200 for the purchase of the annual commemorative wreath to honor the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
- The Senate also unanimously passed the Class of 2020 Dance Funding Act, which allocates $3200 to the University Commencement Committee to help defer the costs of the Class of 2020 Senior Dance in October.
- Senators passed the Chalk Art Competition Act, which retroactively funds the $950 cost of the water and lemonade stands and table and chair rentals at the Sept. 5 Chalk Art event hosted by the Muscarelle Museum of Art.
- Senate Chair Sen. Owen Williams ’23 introduced the Loco for Hoco 2021 Act, which allocates up to $3000 from SA Reserves for the purchase of homecoming shirts, which will be sold in the Sadler Atrium during homecoming weekend. Proceeds will support SA’s off-campus account, which supports internal SA operations.