The Student Association voted for financial independence from GW and less election spending while rejecting a ban on palmcarding and limit to campaign mail in a four-and-a-half hour meeting Tuesday.
Senators approved a resolution for a new SA fee that will directly fund the student organization, giving the SA financial freedom from the University. Students will vote on the measure during the February SA elections.
If the measure passes, students will pay $1 a credit hour – a fee could only change through another referendum. The bill passed with a 20-0 SA vote, with one abstention.
SA President David Burt said the fee will give the SA more autonomy from the University, which determines how much money the SA receives to fund student groups.
“There is already a fee in your tuition, this referendum is just separating out the students part so that it remains untouched by the University,” Burt said. “The money the SA will get from this fee will be carved out of tuition.”
The Senate also rejected a resolution to ban of palm cards. The Senate voted 5-13 with 4 abstentions to continue palmcarding during elections. A palm-card ban earlier this month was also voted down 14-0.
“This is an issue of freedom of speech,” said Sen. J.P. Blackford (G-SEAS), who opposed to the bill. “(Approving the bill would) prevent students from saying things on public property.
“What is most interesting is that the arguments made did not really address the issue because I was not allowed to present the information that I had,” he said.
The SA also rejected a bill drafted by the Residence Hall
Association to limit the number of campaign flyers placed in residence hall mail boxes from seven to three.
“Even though the constituents said they want less mailers, I don’t think it is enough and we should not limit the amounts distributed,” Sen. Matt Silverstein (U-at large) said.
Joshua Hiscock, chairman of the Joint Elections Committee, said he was disappointed that the Senate rejected the RHA’s requests but will enforce the rules that the Senate sets.
Burt said he was also upset about the decision.
“At some point these people are supposed to represent their constituents,” Burt said. “These people are working for their own self-interest.”
The Senate also voted to reduce the maximum amount of money that a candidate can spend on a presidential campaign from $1,500 to $1,200. The original bill proposed to cut the cap to $500 – a reduction senators said was too severe. The limit on spending will not be enacted until next year’s election.
Graduate residents of 2109 F St. questioned their eviction by University officials seeking to turn the building into housing for upperclassmen next year.
Graduate student residents received letters Jan. 25 informing them that they must vacate their apartments by May 31, second-year graduate student Farid Visram said. Senator Naveh Levy (G-at large) introduced a bill recommending the University allow the residents to remain in their apartments until their graduation.
“The building is so small that it won’t help the undergraduates more, but it will be a huge inconvenience for graduates,” second-year law student Maria Pilson said.
Despite the large turnout by residents of the building, which is part of this year’s housing lottery, the bill was tabled until the next SA meeting.
GW College Republicans Chairman Bill Eldridge was sworn in as the new senator representing the Elliot School of International Affairs. Eldridge replaces former Elliot School Sen. Seema Talwar, who left to study abroad this semester.
The Senate also confirmed Amanda Deegan as a member of the Joint Elections Committee, and Adam Greenman as student representative to the Faculty Senate Building Committee.