Against the advice of Neveen Mahmoud ‘11, the CEO of Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE) and the financial manager for the ASSU, the ASSU Undergraduate Senate passed a bill Tuesday authorizing the allocation of $35,000 from the Undergraduate Special Buffer Fund to the Stanford Concert Network. The Graduate Student Council (GSC) will consider the bill tomorrow.
Mahmoud expressed her concern that dipping into the buffer fund for student group funds might set a detrimental precedent.
“The buffer fund– in my interpretation of the way it is outlined in the constitution– is there essentially to account for ASSU’s mistakes,” she said. “I don’t believe that this should be a regular use for buffer-fund money.”
Mahmoud also asserted that drawing special fees from the buffer fund compromises the integrity of the special fees process by robbing students of their agency in the financial decisions and putting an additional burden on legislators.
“I think you would see a huge outcry from students, [with] higher waiver rates,” she said of any future in which groups were funded from the buffer fund rather than through the [special fees] election process. It’s not about these groups in particular getting funding; it’s about how this all happened, what this all means [and] what are the implications of this.”
Mahmoud’s opinion may have contradicted her advice during a previous Senate meeting when she seemed to endorse the withdrawal of student group funding from the buffer fund.
“The senses that I got were that you were okay with these funds being used from the buffer fund,” said Senator Dan DeLong ‘13. “Have you ever indicated that it wouldn’t be okay to use these funds?”
Mahmoud answered by explaining that, although she still believes that the buffer fund can handle the $35,000 loss, she now has reconsidered its implications for future uses. She also noted, again, that she is not responsible for making decisions on policy.
The Senators acknowledged the importance of regulating the buffer funds, saying that they plan to propose a bill in the near future concerning its appropriate uses and emphasizing that the current funding is more of a “loophole” than a trend.
The Senate decided to move forward on the question of present funding, however, since future use of the buffer fund is an issue separate from its current appropriation. The body approved the $35,000 request unanimously.
The Senate also discussed a bill concerning the language department’s attendance policy. Referred to by DeLong as the “CARDINAL Act,” the legislation urges the language center to take urgent action to change their mandatory attendance policy. The policy currently deducts two percentage points from a student’s final grade for every class they miss, regardless of the justification.
“We feel that it discriminates against people with chronic medical conditions or disabilities,” Senator Janani Ramachandran ‘14 said.
DeLong added that the policy doesn’t have an official stance on how the department works with students with a disability, and said that he knew at least three people who have been negatively affected by this policy because of a medical condition.
This policy “is in violation of the spirit of the American Civil Liberties Act… and does not comply with the University’s commitment to ‘ensure equal access to educational programs for students with disabilities,’” DeLong argued. He also said that the policy jeopardizes students’ well-being because sick students are encouraged to go to class, putting their own health in danger as well as that of their peers.
The Senate tabled the bill until next week to allow for greater discussion.