The Student Association Senate unanimously passed a resolution Monday night encouraging officials to boost funding for campus libraries.
Funding for libraries on the three GW campuses decreased more than 90 percent last academic year after officials discontinued the opt-out option for library gifts on student tuition forms in 2018. Yannik Omictin, the SA’s vice president for governmental relations and a library committee member, presented the Fund Our Libraries Act, urging the University to fully fund library budget requests and hire more staff to increase library accessibility for students, faculty and researchers.
The act states that SA senators will monitor officials’ progress in making financial changes, like allocating resources or increasing staff, within the libraries and either present their updates at the next two to six SA meetings. Omictin said the changes will allow GW libraries to “uphold or surpass” the quality of peer school libraries.
A report University of Virginia and Columbia University librarians released in 2013 stated that Gelman Library was a “subpar research library” that lacked resources and staff.
“The previous report released in 2013 received little administrative attention, and during committee meetings we essentially said we would make a re-vamp of the report because the last report did not do much,” Omictin said.
Senator Jake Corsi, CCAS-G, said officials should revert back to the opt-out option for library donations, which helped the libraries maintain constant funding.
“We should motion to resolve the current clause to go back to the original system of the opt-out option, to start refunding out libraries again, instead of just saying it is going to be somebody else’s funding,” Corsi said.
But other senators said the University should foot the bill instead of students, who already pay high tuition rates to attend school, and voted against his motion.
Senators rejected the New Slating Reform Act, which asked the Joint Elections Committee to allow SA election candidates to verbally endorse another candidate, which SA bylaws currently prohibit. SA Sen. Quentin McHoes, ESIA-U and the resolution’s sponsor, said SA election candidates should be able to publicly endorse each other as a natural function of free speech.
“As a person, I should have the right in a free University to express who I believe is the best for the job,” McHoes said.
The legislation failed 14-17-4 after senators raised concerns that candidates could receive unequal attention and that SA bylaws regarding how candidates can use social media to endorse others are unclear.
JEC Chairman Kyle Piekarski said the commission will revisit the bill after senators can work to clarify bylaw language around slating – candidates that run on similar policies and platform points – and public endorsements.
“If requested, the commission will be happy to review or update our recommendations after the certification of elections,” Piekarski said.
The senate also passed the GW Police Department Institutional Reform Act, which called on the department to give “reasonable care and respect” to people experiencing homelessness and clarify and publicize guidelines for how officers should act during student protests.
A video published last week appears to show a GWPD officer pushing a student protester down the stairs of University President Thomas LeBlanc’s on-campus residence during a protest against GW’s fossil fuel investment practices. Officials emailed students Thursday that the officer in the video is on administrative leave.