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Senate supports hike in student comm fee

Based on a proposal made by IT Services and Academic Student Computing that gained unanimous approval by the ASSU Undergraduate Senate at Tuesday’s meeting, students may have to expect a $54 increase to the communications fee on their University bill over the next three academic years.

The fee would rise in three gradual installments, beginning next fall with a $4 per quarter increase for the year. An additional $2 per quarter would be tacked onto the fee for two years following that, raising the fee from $52 per quarter to $60 per quarter by Fall 2013.

Richard Holeton, the director of Academic Computing Services, and Mark Miyasaki, the executive director of Communication Services, suggested that Senate support could help strengthen their case when they present the fee increase proposal to senior administrators.

The increase was proposed in the spirit of continuing to improve scores on customer satisfaction surveys, particularly in terms of wireless Internet performance. Increasing the “density” of wireless access will require additional wiring, particularly in identified problem areas around campus, the two said.

“It’s hard for us to keep up with the demand without the proper budget, and beyond that everybody’s expectation on speed and coverage is always growing,” Miyasaki said. “To try to meet that, we’re putting out newer equipment which is much faster than the old style wireless.”

The demand for wireless access has increased dramatically, they said: since the launch of the iPhone, 13,000 concurrent devices have flooded Stanford WiFi networks.

The current communications fee sits at $52 per quarter and has only increased by $4 per quarter since its creation in 2006.

The Senate registered its support for the increase, suggesting that inflation accounts for its need. Additionally, as high bandwidth videos become increasingly integral to the daily online experience, a demand for improved wireless access and thus additional financial support from students is justified, senators said.

ASSU Election

In preparation for upcoming elections, the Senate reconsidered the nine special fees groups whose budgets the Appropriations Committee had not recommended for funding.

The budgets belong special fees groups who failed to garner recommendation by the Appropriations Committee but were able to secure a spot on the ballot by soliciting additional student support. The Senate’s latest votes on these budgets will be notated on the special fees ballots for student reference on voting day, Senate Chair Varun Sivaram ’11 said.

Anton Zietsman ’12, who sometimes led opposition to budget proposals as Appropriations Chair, reconsidered his position on The Bridge’s budget, this time affirming his support. Although The Bridge’s marketing line item exceeds the amount that the Senate’s funding policies would typically allow, he suggested that marketing is critical to raising awareness about mental health issues.

“It contradicts our policies,” Zietsman said. “That being said, I think that one of the problems with mental health on campus is that it is not adequately advertised.”

Despite these concerns, only three senators supported the budget overall.

The Senate remained equally divided on a budget for the Sexual Health & Peer Resource Center, which was originally rejected for funding requests for T-shirts and officer salary requests that exceed the maximum amount listed in Senate funding policies.

In closed session, the Senate met with Daily staff to discuss the newspaper’s required financial disclosure ahead of the April 8 special fees election. In open session, the Senate voted that The Daily must disclose by Monday the paper’s net assets, the net assets of The Friends of the Stanford Daily Foundation, the amount of money transferred from The Friends to The Daily, and The Daily’s operating budget, which it had already submitted to the Senate.

The Senate also passed legislation to amend the joint by-laws on account of discretionary spending regulations and executive compensation modifications and to “reduce wasteful Senate salary expenditure,” a bill authored by Administration & Rules Chair Alex Katz ’12 that would cut all Senate salaries except for a few key positions that the body has identified as particularly work-heavy.

All funding bills were unanimously passed at Tuesday’s meeting as well.