SA Senate passes fossil fuel divestment, sexual assault education referendums

SA President Nick Gumas thanks senators for passing a bill that will allow students to vote on mandatory sexual violence education sessions at CI. The bill was one of two referendums approved by the SA Senate Monday night. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer
Student Association President Nick Gumas thanks senators for passing a bill that will allow students to vote on mandatory sexual violence education sessions at Colonial Inauguration. The bill was one of two related to referendums that the SA Senate approved on Monday. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

Students will vote on fossil fuel divestment and sexual assault education during student body elections next month.

The Student Association Senate passed two bills Monday night that will place the questions on the ballot in March. One will ask whether the Board of Trustees should disclose GW’s investments in fossil fuel companies and divest. The other will gauge student opinion on whether mandatory sexual violence education should occur during Colonial Inauguration.

SA President Nick Gumas said at a meeting last month that adding mandatory sexual assault education to CI would be his priority this semester, and he encouraged senators to vote for the bill at the beginning of the meeting Monday.

He said it was important to educate students before they come to campus so they’re familiar with University policies as soon as the semester begins.

“We want to make sure students are prepared on day one,” Gumas said.

He later added that he viewed the passing of the bill as the next phase of the “It’s On Us” campaign, which the White House launched this fall.

“This is the follow up in terms of actually tangible policy changes,” he said.

About 40 members of Fossil Free GW attended the meeting to support the bill for a divestment referendum. The bill had narrowly failed at the last SA senate session.

Kyla Lang, the group’s president,┬ásaid passing the bill would give GW students an opportunity to participate in a debate to which other college campuses across the country had already contributed.

“Voting for this does not mean you support divestment,” she said. “It means you’re giving the right to your college to vote on it.”

The senate also passed a bill that added line-item transfers to the finance committee bylaws. Finance committee chair Ben Pryde, U-At-Large, said it was a practice the committee had always had, but the bill would make the action official.

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