The Student Bar Association Senate donated more than $18,000 to a need-based student fund in a bill unanimously passed Tuesday.
The bill transfers all the funds remaining in the SBA’s account for the current school year to the Student Assistance Fund, which will give money to students who need financial assistance for needs like emergency food and transportation. The senate also passed five joint resolutions to show appreciation for law school staff and nine resolutions confirming next year’s executive cabinet members.
SBA Sen. Cyrus Dutton, a third-year law student who co-sponsored the ad hoc authorization to fill the Student Assistance Fund, said he was careful to limit the SBA’s allocations to student organizations’ requests throughout the school year to ensure the senate could provide for student assistance. He said the senate’s finance committee had to sometimes deny requests, like the Law Revue’s request for additional funding for new lighting, so the SBA could maintain the funding to transfer more than $18,000.
“It’s incredible,” he said at the meeting. “I’m very proud of my committee and all the work they’ve done this year.”
The Student Association finance committee allocated $180,915 to the SBA throughout the academic year. The SBA allocates the funds to student organizations for events and ad hoc funding throughout the year.
SBA President Jordan Michel vetoed the Student Org Bylaw Reorganization Act for the third time, but the senate voted to override the veto without amending the act, adding the bill to the SBA bylaws. The bill will stop requiring new student organizations in the law school to appear before the senate as part of their creation process.
Michel said the finance or student organization and charter committees – which regularly interact with student organizations – should determine whether a student organization should appear before the senate in case of any necessary clarifications. He also said the legislation should include an appeals process for student organizations with alleged violations of processes like registration leading up to their creation.
The senate unanimously passed the Finance Modernization Act, which amends the SBA’s bylaws to clarify when the finance committee’s term starts and ends and streamline the process of submitting financial requests.
Senators unanimously approved the constitution for the Armenian Law Students Association. Harut Minasian, a third-year law student who delivered comments on behalf of the organization, pushed senators to vote for the approval because many Armenian students have historically attended the law school.
“We are descendants of genocide survivors, and especially in this city, in Washington D.C., the capital of the land of opportunity, I think it sends a particular message,” he said.
Michel said the law students graduating this spring will be the first in recent memory to not donate to the SBA’s endowed scholarship fund for incoming law students. He said he understood that students wanted to send a message to the University regarding concerns about its scholarship spending, but he questioned whether canceling the gift was the best way to protest.
“The school is going to do their fundraising regardless of whether or not we say we want to give money,” he said. “It’s not really like they’re going to not fundraise because some people say they’re not giving.”
The senate voted unanimously to confirm the vice presidents of finance, first-year students, student enrichment, programming and student affairs, the director of student advocacy and the chief judge of the SBA Supreme Court. SBA senators Sidney Blitman and Kendall Archer will serve as the new SBA chief of staff and the new vice president of first-year students, respectively.
The senate passed five joint resolutions of appreciation for the senate, the SBA executive branch, information specialist Bobby Walis, Jacob Burns Law Library staff and law school support staff.