SBA Senate allocates thousands in funding for International Law Society

Media Credit: File Photo by Anthony Peltier | Staff Photographer

SBA Sen. Cyrus Dutton said the finance committee approved the allocation, which will be directed to the society's general fund, to fulfill its funding needs in the future.

The Student Bar Association Senate unanimously approved $8,000 for the International Law Society at its meeting Tuesday, covering more than two-thirds of costs for the organization’s annual gala.

Sen. Cyrus Dutton, a third-year law student, said the allocation was the largest the SBA has ever granted to the International Law Society from its ad hoc fund, which distributes funds to student organizations as needed to supplement initial allocations provided once a year. The funding will help cover the organization’s annual gala that the group hosts at a foreign embassy, totaling $11,500 in costs, according to the resolution for distribution of the funds.

Dutton said the finance committee approved the allocation, which will be directed to the society’s general fund, to fulfill its funding needs in the future.

“This is a pretty large club, it has a large membership, a lot of participation and it’s a very successful club in what they do,” Dutton said. “So we recommended a total number of $8,000 on the grounds that if they were to come back for ad hoc requests in the future that we would likely recommend a number of zero.”

The senate also passed a resolution that urges the University to install automatic air fresheners in all of the law school buildings’ bathrooms, like those inside the Law Learning Center and the Burns Law Library, which have a “foul odor” even when students wear masks inside. This initiative would serve students, staff and faculty members who use the public bathrooms as an affordable method to combat “unpleasant” smells, according to the resolution.

“The fact that many of the law school bathrooms carry a strong, foul odor has become a well-known truism throughout the student body, to the extent that it has become a running joke among law students that law school bathrooms are to be avoided when possible because of their overwhelming pungence,” the resolution reads.

Senators unanimously voted to confirm first-year law students Allison Finn and Kyle Coopersmith as members of the elections committee that runs internal elections for the SBA. Both nominees unanimously passed through the appointments committee after members vetted them on their experiences and plans for the role, according to the resolution.

Senators passed a resolution to thank GW Law Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew for her contributions to the law school after assuming her role last summer during the COVID-19 pandemic and remote learning. The resolution states that Matthew has demonstrated compassion for the law school through her communication, like her “Weekly Five” newsletter and supportive dialogue with the SBA.

Dutton, the only senator to vote in opposition to the resolution, said some constituents have voiced concerns about Matthew’s performance, and he hopes the administration will address them.

“I’m not going to vote for this resolution, because I think she has handled many things very poorly and in turn, has come back and asked for forgiveness and not always corrected her measures well,” Dutton said.

SBA Sen. Nicole Karem, a second-year law student, said Matthew has done an “incredible” job during the last school year – one of the most difficult years she said the school has faced in its history – while dealing with the online environment during the pandemic.

“Nobody is perfect, but she listens when we have complaints, she is willing to talk to us and she is willing to make changes,” Karem said. “She has shown that through her actions and her words, whether or not we have disagreements with her.”

The senate unanimously passed a bill to pushing the deadline for when senators can submit legislation in the days leading up to senate meetings back from Friday at noon to 11:59 p.m. Saturday.

Senators also passed a resolution welcoming law students back to school and wishing them good luck with the upcoming academic year. The statement aims to remind law students that the SBA is an available resource, and students can raise complaints to the senate if needed, the resolution states.

“The George Washington University Law School Student Bar Association as a whole encourages the student body in their academic endeavors and offers a listening ear, a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on for every law student as they navigate their way through educational challenges and worldwide hardship,” the resolution states.

The next senate meeting will take place Oct. 12 at 9:15 p.m. in the Law Learning Center.

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