At its second meeting of the quarter Tuesday, the ASSU Undergraduate Senate discussed reversing a special fees policy enacted by last year’s Senate. The Senate is set to vote on the special fees bill next week, along Constitutional Council and judicial panel pool nominees.
As approved by the 11th Undergraduate Senate in a January 2010 bill, if student groups that have previously received special fees wish to increase their budgets by more than the inflation rate — approximately 3 percent — they must undergo the formal process of petitioning the student body for their budget to be present on the special fees ballot.
Though the widely debated bill passed last year with nine senators in favor, four opposed and two abstaining, some senators took objection to the nature of the vote, having misunderstood the voting process. In the following weeks, the bill continued to raise protest with student groups.
The bill currently before the Senate would directly reverse last year’s ruling and allow student groups to grow their budgets by 10 percent without petitioning, returning the ASSU joint bylaws to their old language.
The bill’s authors, Appropriations Committee chair Rafael Vasquez ’12, Senate chair Michael Cruz ’12 and Senator Ben Jensen ’12, pointed to an increase in petitions during the last election cycle as a reason to decrease the burden on student groups and individual students to sign petitions.
“People got really annoyed being bombarded with e-mails,” Jensen said.
Senators, including Rebecca Sachs ’13, expressed concern that the bill might pass before new regulations are created to encourage responsible spending by student groups. Sachs noted, however, that she supports the bill in theory, arguing that the current cap “inhibits new ideas.”
Information sessions for student groups seeking special fees will be held Jan. 31, Feb. 3 and Feb. 4, said elections commissioner Stephen Trusheim ’13 when he briefed the senators Tuesday on the timetable of the upcoming spring elections. These approaching information sessions, noted Vasquez and Senator Will Seaton ’13, might pressure the Senate to pass a bill before regulations are in place, though Vasquez said he believes regulations will follow regardless.
The election itself will take place April 7 and 8 and the Senate is set to vote on the special fees policy reversal next week.
During a brief discussion about elections policies, Sachs asked Trusheim about flyer policies — specifically whether restrictions on flyers distributed per candidate could be reinstated.
“The elections commission has no plans to wade into those waters…we do not currently have plans to put that in place,” Trusheim responded.
Also on previous notice for next week is the ASSU executive nomination of Brianna Pang ’13 to the Constitutional Council. (Pang has worked as a Daily writer.) While originally slated for the position, she was replaced amid controversy along with Oz Hasbún ’13 and Alex Katz ’12. If confirmed, Pang would replace Evan Cox, a graduating coterminal student in computer science. The Senate will also vote next Tuesday on four nominees to the judicial panel pool.
Other business Tuesday included discussion of Camp Anytown, an upcoming diversity and leadership retreat targeted at freshmen and planned by the Advocacy Committee. Chaired by Robin Perani ’13 and Kamil Saeid ’13, the committee is also planning to throw a Valentine’s Day party during the week leading up to the holiday.
All funding bills for the evening were passed.