Correction: In an earlier version of this story, The Daily incorrectly reported that Sunday FLiCKS’ special fees request was revised on the voter guide Web site. In fact, only one request has appeared.
The ASSU Undergraduate Senate will meet in closed session for the first time this year to discuss whether or not to allow The Daily to make a confidential disclosure of some financial information ahead of next week’s special fees election.
All 55 campus organizations seeking special fees are required by the ASSU Joint Bylaws to publicly disclose their assets, reserves, bank accounts and sources of funding other than student fees.
The Daily submitted that information only to the Senate and has asked that it not be made available to voters. Jason Shen ’08 M.S. ’09, the chief operating officer, cited the general policy of the newspaper, which is a nonprofit.
“We’re holding to a general rule regarding release of financial information,” Shen said. “It’s not that this or anything else is particularly vulnerable. It’s just generally not a good idea to release your financial information publicly unless you know there’s a compelling need to do so, and we didn’t see one when we were initially making that decision to prepare documents for the Senate.”
Last week, Elections Commissioner Quinn Slack ’11 said the Senate needed to decide whether or not it would consider The Daily’s disclosure as “complete,” a requirement for remaining on the special fees ballot.
Slack told senators on the public Senate e-mail list that they “need to take into account” the ASSU Constitution’s Freedom of Information section, which says “all records of any Association entity must be available for scrutiny by the public” except, among other records, “proprietary business information of Association businesses [and] financial records for non-funded accounts of organizations banking with the Association.”
He said that by submitting information to the Senate, groups’ records would become records of an “Association entity,” but that the ASSU Constitutional Council has ultimate authority on the issue and that the Senate may decide that the disclosure was “complete.”
Slack said The Daily is the only special fees candidate seeking to keep its disclosure confidential, and the only to ever do so, in his memory. He said “ideally,” the question would have been dealt with earlier, but he only noticed the “specificity and strength” of the bylaws language last month.
“In my view, everybody’s actions have been in good faith so far,” Slack said.
The Senate will meet Tuesday evening and vote in open session after a closed-session discussion about The Daily, said Senate Chair Varun Sivaram ’11.
Senator Alex Katz ’12 also participated in the public list discussion.
“In my opinion, the disclosure was insufficient,” he said, adding that he believes The Daily should also disclose “a complete list of assets held by Friends of the Stanford Daily.”
The Friends of The Stanford Daily Foundation, a nonprofit organization of Daily alumni, holds reserves for The Daily; it does not fund The Daily’s printing costs.
Katz also is the executive editor of The Stanford Review, which has been investigating the relationship between The Friends and The Daily since last fall.
The Daily is seeking undergraduate voters’ approval for $89,500 in special fees for printing costs in the April 8 election.
Other Election Updates
The Senate Appropriations Committee decided Monday to expand funding for the Stanford Chaparral’s printing costs to 2,000 copies per issue instead of the 1,000 the committee initially approved.
The special fees request for another group, Sunday FLiCKS, was posted online this week. An initial request for about $67,000 was revised by the Appropriations Committee to $57,581.
The Elections Commission also launched http://voterguide.stanford.edu, which has information on candidates for Senate, Graduate Student Council, ASSU executive and special fees provided by candidates themselves.