Student Assembly President Brian Cannon received both applause and admonishment when he appeared before the SA Senate for his second semester “State of the Student Assembly Address” during the Senate’s regular 18 February meeting.
“This year as a Student Assembly we’ve gone from bad to good,” Cannon said, citing SA accomplishments such as the Office of Sexual Assault Policy, improved communication with students, the Save A Professor initiative and upcoming legislation including a campus recycling program and an Office of Student Advocacy.
“This body must take action that is more than just a reaction to previous events,” he said. “If we have a voice, if we have an opinion – let’s tell everybody.”
A key pillar of Cannon’s agenda was the Save A Professor program, endorsed by the student body in a campus-wide referendum 3 December, 2003. He urged the Senate to include a $30,000 appropriation for the program in the upcoming Student Activities Budget to fund the program for the next three years.
“Maybe we can’t save all the professors that are going to leave, but we can save some of them – and this is the best we can do,” Cannon said.
Cannon also delivered the rest of the Student Activities Budget to the Senate. The Budget represents the Cannon administration’s work on dividing $543,500 between clubs and organizations at the College. The Senate now has several weeks to make any final changes and pass the budget.
Among his new proposals was to set aside money from the Student Activities Consolidated Reserve Fund for a “Campus Safety Fund.” The Reserve Fund consists of money not spent in previous year’s activities budgets. The special safety fund would serve to fund projects aimed at improving campus safety.
“Let us act now rather than passing this on to another Student Assembly,” Cannon said about his safety fund plan.
Overall, Cannon used the opportunity to encourage the Senate to take action on issues that remain unresolved as the Assembly’s term comes to a close.
“Gridlock is a tool of those who lack vision. […] This can’t be about our own struggles, our titles or our own personal ambition,” Cannon said. About a month remains before a new president and Senate are elected.
“I want whoever takes over for me to do a good job, care about students and make the Student Assembly better than what I’ve made it now,” Cannon said.
After Cannon’s address, the Senate heard debate over several resolutions.
The most contentious, sponsored by freshman Senator Clayton LaForge, proposed to reimburse the Freshman Class for its implementation of a communal bicycle system.
“We really believe it’s going to reduce theft,” LaForge said. The resolution sought $318.08 from the SA for paint and other supplies for the bikes.
Among others, junior Senators Luther Lowe and Sean Murphy and sophomore Senator Matt Wigginton rejected the idea.
“The Freshmen should utilize the money appropriated to them though the Undergraduate Assembly before they come knocking on our door,” said Murphy. The Undergraduate Assembly is the body consisting of the class officers of each class.
“We’re stumbling on something that’s actually good for our community,” said freshman Senator Scott Fitzgerald. He noted that the requested amount was less than the $500 Wigginton had requested in a bill to purchase pizza for long Senate meetings.
Lowe flippantly encouraged anti-theft devices that would shock people attempting to remove a bike from the perimeter of campus.
After the jokes subsided, the resolution passed with eight Senators voting in favor, five opposed and one abstention.
A bill by Fitzgerald asking the Executive branch to procure a book list prior to each semester passed unanimously. The idea behind the plan is to allow students to find out what books they need for their classes earlier so they can purchase books from sources other than the College bookstore.
Finally, the departure of two Senators was announced. Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Senator Melissa Eaton resigned her seat before the beginning of the semester. Senior Senator Rob Forrest announced his resignation Wednesday night.
“I’ve had so much fun working with you, I really love this body,” Forrest said. He cited running for the Williamsburg City Council as his reason for leaving. “I hope […] you don’t get disillusioned with this whole process,” he said to his fellow Senators.
By unanimous consent an informal resolution was passed to commend Forrest for his service.