Tuesday, April 19, Student Assembly held the first meeting of its 330th session where it elected new senate officers, approved five nominations for SA Cabinet positions and introduced the Mental Health Initiative Resolution.
Class of 2022 senators remain in senate meetings and represent the interests of the Class of 2026 for the remainder of the Spring 2022 session.
Swearing-In of New Officers
Chair of the Review Board Clay Coleman ’23 swore-in five new senators who were not sworn in at the Monday, April 18 inauguration ceremony, including Sen. Shaunna Scott ’23, Class President Mia Tilman ’24, Sen. Gloriana Cubero Fernandez ’24, Sen. Regina Chaillo ’25 and Sen. Brendan Clark J.D. ’24.
Election of Senate Officers
SA nominated and voted for the new chair, secretary, and historian of the senate for the Student Assembly’s 330th Session. Each nominated candidate was allotted two minutes for a speech and answered questions from other senators.
Sen. Eugene Lee ’23 and Sen. Hashir Aqeel ’25 were nominated for the position of chair of the senate. Lee used his speech and answer time to emphasize his experience as a senator for three years and as chair of the finance and budget committee, while Aqeel emphasized his goals and multiple years left in the senate to implement long-term changes.
Lee said that his goals if elected were to make senate meetings more efficient by reinforcing Robert’s Rules, and Aqeel hoped to make SA more accessible to students and make the senate a more comfortable environment for senators.
After discussion and voting in a closed session, Lee was elected to the position and acted as Chair for the remainder of the meeting.
Sen. Matthew Hwang ’25 was the sole nominee for the position of secretary of the senate, and was unanimously voted into the position. Hwang had previously been serving in the position in the 329th Session since February.
Sen. Sophia Tammera ’24 was the sole nominee for the position of historian of the senate, and was also unanimously voted into the position.
SA confirmed five nominees of the Cho-Martinez administration after each nominee had a chance to introduce themselves and answer questions from the Senators.
Secretary of Sustainability Sydney Thayer ’24 studies environmental science and sociology and is involved on campus as a lead intern of the dining sustainability program and in Sustain, a peer educator group in the Office of Sustainability.
“During my time at the college, I have come to realize that we are a community that cares very, very deeply about sustainability,” Thayer said during her opening remarks, “but I think that we sometimes struggle to navigate sustainability issues because they’re very interconnected, interconnected and complex. My hope is that my department will be a champion of sustainability by helping students and organizations navigate this very interconnected field.”
Secretary of Student Life Taylor Fox ’24 studies government and sociology and is involved in a variety of organizations on campus including as a W&M Scholar, a member of the Black Student Organization and as a confidential advocate at the Haven.
“I do a lot and I am in a lot of places which has allowed me in my Student Assembly capacity to see the gaps that we are having,” Fox said. “I truly am working very hard to make sure a lot of the voices of the communities that we don’t think of in Senate are being heard.”
Secretary of Finance Sophie Halkett ’23 studies economics and math.
“The position of Secretary of Finance has actually been on my mind since January of 2021, during the very lengthy, sometimes arduous deliberations sitting on the Executive Appropriations Committee,” Halkett said. “I have great experience working with members of State Assembly, RSOs and William & Mary staff.”
Halkett assumes the position as the Organization Budget Allocation Process (OBAC) system, which distributes funds to Registered Student Organizations (RSOs), takes on a major overhaul, moving from yearly cycles to quarterly ones.
“This coming school year will be the first year of the new quarterly financial allocation system, and this definitely presents some uncharted territory…it will be my ultimate goal to hit the ground running and ensure the new budget allocation process is rolled out smoothly and of course, work out the eventual kinks that will most likely arise,” Halkett said.
Secretary of Public Affairs Marley Fishburn ’24 studies public policy and was recently the Chair of the Independent Elections Committee which oversaw the SA Elections.
“This position really tested my skills of confidentiality, organization, communication and especially composure under pressure,” Fishburn said. “I learned a lot through this experience, but I want to become more involved in Student Assembly and enact more change and initiative moving forward in terms of public affairs.”
Finally, Secretary of College Policy & Student Rights Amanda Gill ’23 studies government and dance and was previously the undersecretary of the same department, as well as being a member of the Conduct and Honor Advisor Program (CHAP). Gill highlighted her unique experience in advocating awareness of student rights.
“As an Undersecretary, I led a project on informing and educating students on their protesting rights when Governor Youngkin was visiting the College for Charter Day, researching the rights and restrictions student students had, and creating an infographic to be distributed…bringing in my knowledge from CHAP to help ensure students were aware of potential sanctions that could be distributed to them if they were to violate the protesting rules allowed me to combine multiple areas of passion into an informational and prevalent information guide,” Gill said. “This is a project I would like to expand upon in my role as secretary and clarifying all protesting restrictions in all different parts of the William & Mary campus and in the Greater Williamsburg community.”
Class President Suhas Suddala ’22 and Aqeel introduced the Mental Health Initiative Resolution. The bill, which is co-sponsored by an additional eight senators, would create an Ad-Hoc Committee for Mental Wellness composed of the Secretary of Health and Safety, the Undersecretary of Mental Wellness and according to the bill’s text “ideally, at least one Senator from every social class and graduate school and selected community members.”
“This is a combination of the last four years of the Mental Health Initiative Group’s work,” Suddala said. “[The goals of the bill are] first…recognizing past initiatives, second, forming the committee and third is to ensure the distribution of an annual report every year.”
“We’re really lucky to have someone like [Suddala] who spent the last four years working on mental health issues here on campus,” Aqeel said. “A big part of this resolution is just making sure that that work continues via both the committee that’s being made and just Student Assembly as a whole because what we don’t want to happen is all those relationships that have been built up over the past few years to, kind of, die out.”
Also at this week’s meeting:
- SA President John Cho ’23 introduced himself to the Senate in his first executive update. Cho discussed on and off campus allegations of drugging and how his administration is taking steps to address the situation.