SA passes three bills, hears State of the College Address from President Cho

Class of 2025 Senators hug Sen. Regina Chaillo '25. The meeting is Chaillo's last of the year, as she is resigning from her position to study abroad in Madrid, Spain in Spring 2023. // PEERAWUT RUANGSAWASDI

Tuesday, Dec. 6, the Student Assembly of the College of William & Mary held its final meeting of the Fall 2022 semester. SA President John Cho ‘23 gave the State of the College address and the Senate passed three bills. No new bills were introduced in anticipation of winter break. 

State of the College Address 

Cho began his constitutionally-required address by acknowledging the challenges that SA faced in the Fall semester.

“I know with everything going on, it’s been tiring,” Cho said. “I really am proud to be a part of a community so passionate and so willing to work on behalf of others.”

Cho highlighted the introduction of the Community Values pledge, noting that this was the first time in 330 years that SA implemented an initiative and a pledge based on diversity and equity. He acknowledged Sen. Max Berckmueller ’23 for his assistance in the initiative.

He also praised the work of Sen. Sean Nguyen ’25 and SA Finance Secretary Sophie Halkett ’23 in allocating funding for Recognized Student Organizations.

Cho said he was looking forward to the Spring semester, including the reintroduction of previous events such as the Royal Ball and Charter Day that were suspended or limited during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Cho ended his remarks by soliciting comments from Senate members. Class President Mia Tilman ’24 said she hopes to see more communication from the university administration to the student body regarding potential changes to tuition fees.

“I was just kind of reading a Flat Hat article about one of the recent BOV meetings and the discussion about the potential change in tuition,” Tilman said. “I’m wondering if either like Academic Affairs or, you know, through communication with admin could maybe get a little bit more clarification…and maybe a little bit of communication to the student body about that because it seemed like one of those big confusing things that impact the student body.”

Old Business

The Senate unanimously amended the SA code to formally establish the Department of Data & Analytics. The act comes after the formation of the Data Science Task Force, which has been tasked with the creation of surveys for the SA. 

The name of the department was changed from the Department of Data Science to the Department of Data & Analytics for specificity reasons.

Nguyen noted that while the department would be beneficial in collecting data, he voiced concerns from the Finance Committee, saying that the department could put too much trust on individuals to create non-biased data surveys. 

With the creation of the new department, Cho is required to nominate a secretary to head the department by the first two Senate meetings of the Spring semester. 

The Supporting LGBTQ+ Roommates Act, sponsored by Sen. Matt Swenson ’26, Class President Zoe Wang ’26 and Tilman also passed. The act aims to provide a network for members of the LGBTQ+ community to find roommates with whom they feel comfortable living with. 

The bill contains a resolution encouraging the administration and Residence Life to add an option to mark one’s status as a LGBTQ+ student on the Roommate Selection form, which is currently unavailable due to legal and privacy concerns. 

Nguyen, reporting on the bill’s evaluations from the Finance committee, said that although the bill had positive aspects, it was an explicit violation of the finance code, as it aimed to use food as an incentive for students to attend the event. 

“It’s a good way for those in the community to visibly see each other,” Nguyen said of the positive aspects of the bill. 

The bill ultimately passed unanimously.

The Sixth Annual Sankofa Gala Act, sponsored by Sen. Shaunna Scott ’23, also passed. The bill funds this spring’s Sankofa Gala, a formal black-tie event sponsored by SA that celebrates the contributions of Black students throughout the College’s history. The event occurs during Black History Month. 

The Gala’s namesake, the Sankofa Seed sculpture outside Jefferson Hall, was created as part of The Lemon Project and is based on a traditional Ghanian tribal bird symbol and serves as a metaphor meant to represent the achievements of the College’s Black community. It was created by sculptor Steve Prince, the Director of Engagement at the Muscarelle Museum of Art.

“It looks back at all the things from which it came from and all the things it went through,” Prince said, referring to the bird’s head looking backwards in the sculpture. 

Although the Sankofa Fest, different from the Sankofa Gala event, was scheduled for Dec. 11, it had to be rescheduled for a yet-to-be-decided date in the Spring 2023 semester due to difficulties in securing vendors as well as insufficient planning. To avoid losing the money on the already-executed contract with the band that was going to perform, the band will now play during the Sankofa Gala in February and the Sankofa Fest will feature more informal entertainment. 

Also at this week’s meeting: 

  • Nguyen announced that The Distribution of University-Branded Complimentary Keypers (DUCK) Act was in full swing. Class of 2025 senators spent five hours sorting the Keypers, which will be distributed to students starting in the Spring 2023 semester.

CORRECTION (1/23/23): Article was updated by Sarah Devendorf (Standards and Practices Editor) to give credit to Peerawut Ruangsawasdi for taking the article’s featured photo. 


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