Tuesday, Nov. 30, the College of William and Mary’s 329th Student Assembly swore in a new Class of 2024 Senator, introduced five bills and passed three bills.
Sen. Daniel Bess ’24 was sworn in at the beginning of the meeting, beating out 27 or 28 other applicants to earn the position, according to Sen. Mia Tilman ’24.
Bess replaces former Sen. Sailor Mao ’24 who resigned from his position earlier this semester.
Sen. Taylor Fox ’24 and Sen. Shaunna Scott ’23 introduced The Fourth Annual Sankofa Gala Act, which allocates $11,550 for the Sankofa Gala which will be held this February.
“Sankofa Gala did not occur last year, so it’s coming back for this year, we really want to go all out,” Taylor said while discussing the bill.
Taylor described the Sankofa Gala as a safe space for Black students on campus and a place to celebrate students who work “without a title.” She also recommended that the Gala not be made mandatory to attend for SA senators, though interested senators may attend individually.
Fox also introduced The Warm Welcome Back Act, which charges SA with hosting and organizing an event providing drinks and snacks for students on the first day of Spring 2022 semester classes.
Sen. Mia Tilman ’24 introduced the Diverting from Single-Use Plastics Acts.
“If you guys aren’t aware, earlier this year, Governor Ralph Northam passed an executive order that basically bans higher institutions from buying single-use plastics,” Tilman said, “But …this happened basically right as orgs were budgeting, and I don’t think we can blame our orgs for not taking this into consideration, and not following state legislation closely…some orgs are running into situations right now where they say they’re going to buy utensils as is in their budget and are finding that they just don’t have enough money to be able to buy slightly more expensive compostable options.”
The bill would make up any costs incurred by student organizations having to buy more expensive sustainable options for plastic items.
Tilman also introduced The Period Act Part III to fund free menstrual products for students.
“We’re funding menstrual products to place in gender-neutral bathrooms around campus — so two in Swemromas, one in Sadler and then one in the Wellness Center,” Tilman said. “In this bill specifically, all I’m asking for is the money to repurchase those period products…part of why we’re hoping to get this through now is that we can get that logistics side worked out and get those restocked over winter break so they’re back for the semester.”
Scott introduced The Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Bill, which allocates $5,000 to contribute to the speaking fee of Benjamin Crump for the Center for Student Diversity’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Program.
“[Crump] has served as the attorney for Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, a lot of police brutality victims,” Scott said. “The CSD is putting on this event and I’m asking for $5,000 to support him coming.”
SA passed The Feeding Students in Isolation Act, sponsored by Sen. Zach Outzen J.D. ’22, after a 30-minute debate over a potential violation of Virginia Code. The bill, which was endorsed by the College’s COVID-19 Response Team, allocates up to $2,000 to the Wesley Foundation and its Campus Food Pantry to buy food and groceries for students isolating due to COVID-19 and also creates an infrastructure for the transportation of that food from the food pantry to isolated students.
“I don’t want this to be something that admin can flex, saying, ‘look what was done,’” Tilman said while proposing an unsuccessful unfriendly amendment to the bill that would add a clause chastising the administration for their lack of action on the issue.
SA quickly skipped through debate to unanimously pass the Winter Clothing Drive Act, sponsored by Scott, which charges SA with advertising a clothing drive. Students can donate clothes to the House of Mercy through donation boxes which are set up in the Sadler Center and Campus Center from Nov. 29 to Dec. 13.
SA also passed The Steer Clear Revival Act, sponsored by Chair of the Senate Owen Williams ’23, which brings back the Steer Clear program for the spring semester. Steer Clear is a free, student-operated transportation service for students walking home late at night, which shut down operations during the COVID-19 pandemic after failing to submit a budget to SA.
Also at this week’s meeting:
- SA President Meghana Boojala ’22 gave a large update to the Senate, discussing her presentation at the Board of Visitors’ November meeting which focused on the classroom experience and DEI efforts.
- Class President Yannie Chang ’25 reported that the Class of 2025 S’mores Mixer on Nov. 19 “went well.”