Senate passes five bills, confirms new Data secretary

Senators at the Dec. 5, 2023 meeting. PEERAWUT RUANGSAWASDI / THE FLAT HAT
Senators at the Dec. 5, 2023 meeting. PEERAWUT RUANGSAWASDI / THE FLAT HAT

Tuesday, Feb. 27, the Senate of Student Assembly of the College of William and Mary met and discussed multiple bills and approved a new secretary of Data and Analytics. This meeting was the last chance for senators to propose new legislation that would be approved before spring break, with only six meetings left in the 331st session.

Special Business

Blaze Banks ’25 was nominated for the role of secretary of Data and Analytics and attended to speak to the Senate for a vote to fill the vacancy created by Deputy Secretary of Data and Analytics Varsha Gollarhalli ’25 after she left the secretary-level role to become the deputy secretary. 

Banks presented his qualifications of being an international relations major and having interned at a think tank this previous summer. He spoke about his efforts to increase sustainability through the Williamsburg Area Transit Authority bus Qualtrics survey, and other initiatives he wanted to work on through the new position. 

Following questions about his extracurricular involvement, the Senate voted unanimously to confirm him for the position

New Business

The Senate discussed six new bills, starting with a The Providing Resources and Opportunities for Enhanced Student Development (PROFESsionals) Act, sponsored by Sens. Marshea Robinson MBA and Shalini Kumar MBA. 

The bill proposes group training for pursuing certification in the business field. It also requests $27,000 from SA Reserves to support two comprehensive group training opportunities (40 hours each) for students, both undergraduate and graduate, preparing them for the Project Management Professional or Certified Associate in Project Management certifications. 

The next bill was The Paws for Stress Act, sponsored by Sen. Sophia Tammera ’24. This bill seeks to provide $1,500 for an outdoors therapy cat event, with $800 allocated for “cat-related expenses” and $700 for croissants and coffee for attendees. The bill states the event seeks to lower stress levels at the College. 

“To enhance student well-being through therapeutic cat interactions,” the bill’s purpose statement states.

This initiative, if passed, would take place two weeks after Spring break at the Crim Dell.

The Women’s Wellness For All Act, sponsored by Sen. Soleil Garnett ’24, aims to provide $3,350 for the Women’s Wellness for All event, which would invite speakers from Norfolk State University and the McLeod Tyler Wellness Center. 

The Supporting the Business Law Review Spring 2024 Symposium Act, sponsored by Sen. Connor O’Neill J.D. ’25, aims to fund the Law School’s Spring Symposium with $8,000 from SA Reserves.  

The chamber next discussed the American Sign Language Act, sponsored by Class President Yannie Chang ’25. This bill seeks to collaborate with the American Sign Language club to raise awareness of deaf culture and the deaf community, providing $2,600 for an event raising awareness with the club. 

The event would be held at the Brinkley Commons on Wednesday, April 3. 

The Bridging Resources for Access to Crutches and other Equipment (BRACE) Act, sponsored by Class President Zoe Wang ’26, aims to provide $1,000 to subsidize the students’ cost of medical equipment for unforeseen injuries.

“WHEREAS, this would be test pilot program to investigate if it would be sustainable and beneficial for Student Assembly to fund the subsidization of durable medical equipment every year,” part of the bill reads.

Old Business

The Senate passed five bills in old business.

The Funding Iftar Act III, sponsored by Sen. Laayba Tanoli ’26, Secretary of the Senate Sen. Hazel Vineet ’25 and Sen. Hashir Aqeel ’25, provided $7,047 to fund break fast meals during the month of Ramadan.

Class President Nico Giro-Martin ’27 expressed his support for the bill. 

“It’s a student need that needs to be met, and we should fill that gap,” he said.

“It’s a student need that needs to be met, and we should fill that gap,” Giro-Martin said.

The Senate passed the bill with ‘Yes’ votes from all senators voting except Sen. Connor Cheadle J.D. ’25, who voted ‘No.’ Class President Mia Tilman ’24, Sen. Daniel Bess ’24 and Sen. Chelsea (CJ) Roberts M.Ed. did not vote.

The Annual Review of the Organization Budget Allocation Committee and Process Act, sponsored by Chair of the Finance committee Sen. Matt Swenson ’26, passed with near-unanimous approval, with Tammera abstaining.

Swenson’s bill codified changes to the SA code that lowered the quorum needed for an OBAC meeting. Currently, the group often has to reschedule meetings because they do not have enough people to reach their quorum to vote on budgets. 

The bill also formally codified new changes to the budgeting process for Recognized Student Organizations, such as formally requiring organization members to attend budget training sessions. The bill can be read here.

The Supporting the 2024 Voting Rights Restoration Summit Act, sponsored by O’Neill and co-sponsored by Cheadle, provided $2,000 for an event at the Law School that will discuss voting rights restoration and contain a keynote speech given by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who is running for governor of Virginia. The event is slated to be held at the Law School on Thursday, Mar. 21.

This bill highlighted an event that the Student Bar Association planned for the Law School students as well as undergrads. 

Chang said the bill senators should support this bill as it also benefits undergraduate students. 

“Not super sure how this is different from undergrad events. A benefit from this is that this is a good space for grads and undergrads to collaborate,” Chang said.

The Senate moved on to The Syllabus Access Resolution, sponsored by Sen. Mayer Tawfik ’27. The bill formally called on the University Registrar to allow professors to attach syllabi directly to their course descriptions. This bill passed unanimously.

The last bill passed was The QTPOC Formal Act II, sponsored by Swenson, Sen. Matthew Hwang ’25, Vineet and Chang. This bill provided $1,725 for a formal held by the Queer Trans People of Color organization, which is taking place on Thursday, April 11.

Executive Updates

SA President Sydney Thayer ’24 said that the Department of Data and Analytics is collecting question suggestions for an omnibus survey, an initiative that Banks mentioned.

The Senate is planning an Earth Day Bash on Saturday, April 20, creating a student sustainability council and a comprehensive guide on sustainability for the entire school. SA’s efforts to increase sustainability also include hosting a sustainability forum.


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